The Hyde Park Youth Symphony has its antecedents in the 1950s when the living room of Claire Despres Oppenheim (pictured here) became too small to contain the chamber ensemble of her string students. Claire, a Hyde Park resident for most of her life, began teaching string and piano lessons in the neighborhood during the 1940s. In October of 1955, Claire and a group of interested Hyde Park parents started the Children’s Symphony Orchestra of Chicago, directed by Charles R. Buckley.
Always eager to give her students the best possible ensemble experiences, Claire Oppenheim founded two additional groups. First, the Hyde Park Youth Chamber Orchestra (founded in 1971) was formally incorporated in 1978. She launched a third group, the Youth String Sinfonia, in 1982. These two groups merged in 1984 to form the Hyde Park Youth Sinfonia. ‘Sinfonia’ was changed to ‘Symphony’ in 1995, a year after Claire’s death at the age of 84.