Senior plays in Youth Symphony Orchestra

Madison Kraus ’22 joins highest ranked Chicago group in bass


Madison Kraus ‘22 outside of Orchestra Hall on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, where CYSO performs. (photo courtesy of Kraus)

Jeanne Mardegan, Reporter

At the age of 9, Madison Kraus ‘22 discovered her love for playing the double bass and has been chasing her talent ever since, she said. After her mother’s suggestion of joining an out-of-school program in seventh grade, she auditioned, and was accepted into the Chicago Youth Symohony’s Orchestra (CYSO), specifically into their Debut group.

“My family is very musical and I grew up around that,” Kraus said. “So not only was it that I wanted to be musical like my family, but I was [playing] and I was actually good at it and people were applauding [me]. I wanted to keep going through that.”

CYSO places their students into skill-based orchestras, with the opportunity to audition each season into a more advanced, prestigious group if wanted, Kraus said. Officially joining the highest rank, Symphony, means taking on more responsibilities. The orchestra plays three concerts a year, performs at a fundraiser gala, and even gets to take part in a European tour in the summer.

“The trip to Europe is going to be the most outstanding thing I’ve done with my musical career,” Kraus said. “Most musicians don’t get the opportunity to play in Europe for such a group, and I’m very lucky to be given that experience.”

Since CYSO is an additional extracurricular Kraus is a part of, she’s had to learn to balance her schedule, she said. The group practices every Sunday from 3 to 6 p.m., sometimes until 8 p.m., if necessary. When not working on her pieces for CYSO, she’s a member of the Sinfonietta Orchestra at LT. Becoming a member of the group requires an audition since most members play by themselves and frequently without a conductor, orchestra teacher Jan Matthews said.

“[Madison] sets really high standards for herself and her colleagues,” Matthews said. “She gets on really well with everybody and is very respected in class.”

After high school, Kraus plans to continue studying music in college. CYSO has offered her many opportunities that will assist her in her future career, including preparing for auditions and challenging her skills.

“It takes a lot of work to get to where I’m at, but I think everyone could get there if they wanted,” Kraus said. “I’m very grateful to be a part of this group and have the experiences I’ve had with them.”