"Sometimes the present creates the future by breaking the shackles of the past; but sometimes
the past creates the future by breaking the shackles of the present. The Enlightenment and
modernism are examples of the former, the Renaissance, and perhaps our time, are examples of the latter."
- Frederick Turner
The City Wide Symphony Orchestra is dedicated to nurturing, facilitating, and promoting a community
appreciation for symphonic music and the support of music as a lifelong avocation.
The orchestra provides an opportunity for talented Chicago area musicians of all ages to perform in a
semi-professional orchestra through a variety of free concerts and programs that contribute
to the cultural life of the community.
The orchestra promotes individual growth in musicianship and accomplishment of its members
through mutual support.
The Chicago City Wide Symphony Orchestra had its beginning in 1947 when teacher Fanny A. Hassler
agreed to conduct the first rehearsal of the future Northside Children's Orchestra at Eugene Field
Park in Chicago. In 1953 the orchestra moved to the Jefferson Park Field House and continued under
the direction of Fanny Hassler. The following year the orchestra was renamed "Students' Orchestra".
During the years that followed the members were provided with scholarships to the Summer Music Camp
at the University of Illinois. Most important to these young musicians were several summer trips to
the Interlochen Music Camp in northern Michigan, as well as Carnegie Hall in New York, when the
Chicago Park District provided the bus for the trip.
As the orchestra increased in size, and its members increased in age, Fanny divided the members
into "Preparatory Orchestra", "Advanced Orchestra", and "Concert Orchestra". This made it possible
to have individual orchestras tailored for those of all ages and advancement.
In 1955-1956 the orchestra performed in Orchestra Hall as guest performers and accompanists for
the Young People's Song Festival of the Civic Music Association. The orchestra first appeared on
television in 1955 on WGN-TV; and, in 1961, played a complete program on WTTW. The orchestra
continued to prosper and perform regularly at Jefferson Park and at many events, including Humbolt
Park Summer Concerts, Mooseheart Children's Home, the Parental School, and Grant Park Music Festivals.
In 1983 the organization became known as the "City Wide Orchestral Association" until 1996, when
the Student Orchestra was discontinued because of lack of interest. The name "City Wide Symphony
Orchestra" was formally adopted in 1996 to reflect its present day mission and future.
Fanny Hassler was the driving force that created and maintained a musical and orchestral experience
for young and old alike. It was because of her vision, dedication and efforts that the City Wide
Symphony Orchestra is here today. She retired from conducting in 1983 and donated her music library
to the orchestra. Fanny passed away in March of 1996. Her name and memory is honored as the orchestra
continues to play music from the "Fanny Hassler Music Library". On October 20, 1996 orchestra
president Robert Beck presented, on behalf of the orchestra members, a plaque for display in the
Jefferson Park Field House in remembrance of Fanny Hassler's contribution to the community and to
the advancement of music appreciation.
Since its inception, the orchestra has relied on the continuous support and resources of the
Chicago Park District.
Our history was provided by long time member, violinist and past president of the orchestra, Robert Beck.