Cook County families upset over change of venue for student musicians due to downtown chaos

Oak Park-River Forest High School may have a nice auditorium, but it is no Orchestra Hall.

It was a very disappointing day for a group of young musicians at Leyden High School and their parents who were looking forward to performing at Chicago's most prestigious stage, but were relocated over concerns about downtown safety.

"I'm upset," said Gregg Mantz, whose son was performing. "Because my son is in the band and now he doesn't have an opportunity to play on that stage."

The Leyden concert was titled "An Evening at Orchestra Hall," featuring the Leyden High School band, choir, and orchestra, along with several partnered middle schools.

But on Friday afternoon, an alert went out announcing a location change to Oak Park-River Forest High School. It came in the wake of the chaos that unfolded just steps away from Symphony Center last weekend, and amid the possibility of more trouble.


"It's pretty sad the state of affairs that the city is in right now, and it's led us to the point where our kids can't even play at the Symphony Center," said Greg Brosch, another parent. "They were all looking forward to it. And they're all pretty heartbroken to be honest with you. It's very sad as a parent to watch that for my son."

"We have mixed feelings, but what are we going to do?" said parent Shannon Bono. "We have to kind of go with the flow here."

"I think it was erring on the side of caution for the kids," said Brosch. "Maybe [the decision] is pessimistic, but that's the world we're living in now."

"I think that under the circumstances, it was a good call," said Mantz. "I was kind of concerned earlier this morning about going down there because of all the stuff that's been going on in the city. So I think for the safety of everyone, it was a good call."