CYWS was founded in 1989 by Dr. Gary M. Ciepluch and Robert McAllister and is now in its 34th season. 1995-96 marked the initial season for the CYWS Group II under the direction of Melissa Lichtler. Originally brought about by a partnership between Case Western Reserve University School of Music and the Cleveland Institute of Music, the program was established to provide a musical venue for the most outstanding high school woodwind, brass, and percussion musicians throughout Northeast Ohio.
Selection in the Cleveland Youth Wind Symphony is determined through auditions held each May for the following fall. In partnership with Cleveland State University, CYWS holds weekly rehearsals at CSU’s School of Music in downtown Cleveland. In addition to the concerts they perform each season in Severance Music Center, the home of the world renowned Cleveland Orchestra, the groups have performed numerous times at conventions and festivals, and in concert halls throughout the United States and abroad. CYWS Group I has performed eight times at the Ohio Music Education Association State Convention. In 1992, the Cleveland Youth Wind Symphony was invited to perform at the Music Educators National Conference held in New Orleans, Louisiana.
In June 1994, the group began a series of international concert tours. They have performed in countries including Germany, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, England, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Hungary, Luxembourg, Austria, and the Netherlands. In 2018 CYWS was invited to perform as a headline group for the Florence, Italy, Festival of Youth Orchestras. In June 2023, CYWS will embark on its 15th international tour to England and Scotland.
CYWS strives to be the premiere youth wind symphony in Northeast Ohio, enhancing the level of musical artistry for young musicians, promoting musical excellence, cultivating a lifelong appreciation of music, and serving as ambassadors of music nationally and internationally. Our program is student-centered and inclusive, and provides transformative experiences within a supportive learning environment. We are proud to build on our long tradition of offering high-caliber ensembles that draw from diverse school systems throughout Northeast Ohio.
We acknowledge the European heritage from which the traditional wind symphony repertoire arises. At the same time, we believe that music as an art form is enriched and enhanced when we embrace different cultures and perspectives. We are continually exploring ways to reflect inclusivity in our programming. We strive to increase and maintain diversity within the CYWS community and will continue to build relationships with diverse individuals and organizations. We are passionate about providing musical pathways and opportunities through collaborations with guest artists, composers, and conductors to provide CYWS members with innovative and world-class musical experiences.
CYWS values and celebrates the creativity and individuality of our members, who embrace a diversity of gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, faith background, and socioeconomic status. We can only be our best ensemble when individuals are able to bring their true, whole, authentic selves to the stage.