Three Chicagoland High School Students to Perform Side by Side Concert with Chicago Philharmonic

Three Chicago-area high school students will get a taste of life as a professional musician as part of the Chicago Philharmonic‘s Side by Side program. John Lin, Ben Wagner, and Shea Acott were invited to participate in the program which pairs high school musicians with seasoned orchestra members. The program will culminate when the students join the orchestra during the Chicago Philharmonic’s May 15 concert.

The Side by Side program allows young musicians the unique opportunity to work one-on-one with CPO orchestra members. Students work independently to practice their music and are then mentored by an orchestra member. They attend all rehearsals before joining the orchestra on stage for the formal performance.

The three students already have an impressive list of musical accomplishments under their belts. Violinist John Lin, from Chicago’s West Loop, is a student at University of Chicago Lab School and currently holds the concertmaster position with the Protegé Philharmonic.

Violist Ben Wagner, from Burr Ridge, is a senior at Timothy Christian High School. He was recently chosen as principal viola at the IMEA District 1 Orchestra Festival, received the Lorraine Daniels Music Scholarship at his high school, and was the first place winner at the Protegé Philharmonic Concerto Competition. Ben will attend the Jacobs School of Music next year to study viola with Steven Wyrczynski.

Cellist Shea Acott, from Northfield, attends New Trier High School. She has served as principal cellist in her school’s symphony and chamber orchestra for the past two years; has participated in Music for Kids as a volunteer violin, cello, and music theory teacher; and is a member of Midwest Young Artist’s symphony orchestra and intensive chamber program. Shea will attend the University of Illinois School of Music next year to study with Pacifica Quartet cellist Brandon Vamos.

Conductor Larry Rachleff will lead the CPO’s May 15 performance of Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 and Beethoven’s “Emperor” Piano Concerto No. 5 with internationally-renowned pianist Jeffery Siegel. The concert will take place at Pick-Staiger Hall, 50 Arts Circle Dr., Evanston. Tickets are $20-$75; student tickets are $10. For more information, call 847-866-6888 or visit



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