Applications for the Chicago Orchestra of Chicago’s 2017/18 season are now closed. Results will be emailed to applicants on or before April 3, 2017. Please check back in the fall of 2017 for applications details for the 2018/19 season.

About the Civic Orchestra

Since 1919, young artists have sought membership in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago to develop their musicianship and to further prepare for professional careers. Founded by Frederick Stock, second music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Civic Orchestra is the only training orchestra of its kind affiliated with a major American orchestra.

The Civic Orchestra offers promising emerging professional musicians unique access to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) through training with the musicians of the CSO, CSO Music Director Riccardo Muti, and distinguished guest conductors, as well as CSO Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant Yo-Yo Ma. Under the guidance of the CSO’s artistic leadership, Civic Orchestra musicians develop as exceptional orchestral players and civically-engaged artists.

The Civic Orchestra provides its members with opportunities to build important skills to make professional lives in music. Civic Orchestra members rehearse and perform at Symphony Center in downtown Chicago, form deep relationships with CSO musicians through sectional rehearsals, private lessons, side-by-side rehearsals, mock auditions, and career development conversations. Civic members also attend select CSO rehearsals and receive complimentary tickets to CSO concerts throughout the season.  Civic members also expand their creative, professional, and artistic boundaries through a series of residencies led by Yo-Yo Ma that include a wide array of performances in neighborhoods and schools throughout the Chicagoland.

Following an additional audition process, select members are appointed as Civic Fellows and partake in a rigorous curriculum of artistic and professional development that enhances their participation in the full orchestra. See below for more details.

The Civic Orchestra is a signature program of the Negaunee Music Institute at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The Institute offers education and community programs that annually engage more than 200,000 people of diverse backgrounds. For more information about the Institute and its programs, visit cso.org/institute.

The Civic Orchestra Fellowship

The Civic Fellowship program immerses select regular members in rigorous training that enhances their participation in the full orchestra. Through an array of experiences designed to build and diversify creative and professional skills, the fellowship program empowers participants realize their full potential as artistically excellent, collaborative, civically-engaged, and entrepreneurial musicians.

In 2017/18, there will be up to 17 Civic Fellows. Fellowship auditions are open to new, incoming Civic members (for up to a two-season term, concluding as late as June 2019) as well as to current Civic regular members who are advancing to their second year in the orchestra (for a one-season fellowship only, concluding June 2018).  

Fellowship auditions are open to the following instruments: flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, percussion, violin, viola, cello, bass, and keyboard.

The Civic members selected for the Fellowship will receive an annual stipend of $15,000, which is inclusive of membership in the full orchestra. The stipend is payable in bi-weekly installments, September through June. Eligibility to participate in the Civic Fellowship is contingent upon maintaining good standing in the Civic Orchestra. While a second season as a regular member may be offered without re-audition, Fellows who wish to extend the Fellowship to a second season must re-audition. The 2017/18 Civic Fellowship curriculum will consist of the following; Fellows have approximately 20-25 hours of work per week, inclusive of Civic Orchestra duties.   

  • •    Play expanded roles for Civic Orchestra “artistic challenges” led by Yo-Yo Ma.
  • •    Participation in an intensive chamber music program, performing at Symphony Center and in schools and communities across Chicago, in traditional and mixed ensembles. Perform a wide range of repertoire, from Baroque to new music.
  • •    Mentor young musicians as part of the Chicago Youth in Music Festival.
  • •    With guidance from guest artists and CSO staff, participate in community engagement projects that expand the Civic Orchestra’s offerings and engage diverse communities. Projects reach Chicago area hospitals, juvenile detention centers and prisons, and social service organizations.
  • •    Receive coaching and attend workshops led by world-renowned faculty including Yo-Yo Ma, musicians of the CSO,  and other guest artists.
  • •    Participate in training that further develops public speaking, fundraising, artistic planning, classroom management, and advocacy skills.
  • •    Have the opportunity to teach weekly at a local community music school

 

See eligibility requirements below.

Civic Orchestra Membership and Eligibility

CIVIC ORCHESTRA REGULAR MEMBERSHIP

Participation in the Civic Orchestra as a regular member is a part-time commitment, enabling musicians to pursue additional educational opportunities and engage in the rich professional musical life of Chicago. Each regular member of the Civic Orchestra will receive a stipend of $7,500 in the 2017/18 season. Those who audition successfully for rotating principal string positions will receive an additional stipend ranging from $90-$210 per concert cycle. The stipend is payable in bi-weekly installments, September through June. Regular members are eligible to participate in the Civic Orchestra for up to two consecutive seasons, provided they maintain good standing throughout the first season and upon receipt of an invitation from the CSO for a second year of membership. Musicians accepted as associate members are offered a one-season associate membership only, and are contacted on as-needed basis as extra/substitute musicians throughout the season.

Each season, the Civic Orchestra typically presents 7-8 concerts at Symphony Center and 2-3 performances in community locations, participates in 3-4 residencies with Yo-Yo Ma, and offers two open rehearsal with CSO Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti. The Civic season also includes side-by-side rehearsals and coaching sessions with CSO musicians, reading sessions with special guest conductors, career development workshops, as well as master classes with CSO guest artists as opportunities arise.

ELIGIBILITY
CIVIC ORCHESTRA

Members of Civic Orchestra must be aged 18 or older, and must have, at minimum, a high school diploma to join the Civic Orchestra as a Regular or Associate Member. Most members are between the ages of 22 and 30 and are either graduate level students or post-graduates with a Bachelor’s degree. While some members are current undergraduate students, the time commitment for the Civic Orchestra is substantial and may often conflict with undergraduate university obligations. All Regular Members must live within the Greater Chicago area, as the season schedule does not permit commuting from out of state.

CIVIC FELLOWSHIPS

Civic Fellows must first be accepted as a regular member of the Civic Orchestra and possess at least a Bachelor’s degree in music performance. Once chosen, fellows may not be enrolled in a degree, diploma, or certificate program at any time during their fellowship. 

2017/18 auditions are open to new, incoming Civic members (for a two-season term, concluding as late as June 2019) as well as to current Civic regular members who are advancing to their second year in the orchestra (for a one-season term only, concluding June 2018).  

Applicants who have been accepted as Regular Members and have also applied for a Civic Fellowship must participate in a live interview (either in person or via Skype). Applicants who are advanced to the Fellowship interview process will be notified of their status and assigned an interview time by March 20, 2017.

INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS

The Civic Orchestra accepts applications from non-US citizens. If the application and audition are successful, members must have a valid visa or immigration status and appropriate employment authorization in order to participate in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. If an applicant is awarded an offer of Regular Membership or Civic Fellowship, the Civic Orchestra may be eligible to sponsor the member on an H-3 visa. H-3 visas are very restrictive in the US with regard to earning additional income, therefore it is highly recommended that international applicants have an F-1 status (with CPT or OPT), O-1 status, or Permanent Residency (Green Card).

Audition Information

Applications for the Chicago Orchestra of Chicago’s 2017/18 season are now closed. Results will be emailed to applicants on or before April 3, 2017. Please check back in the fall of 2017 for applications details for the 2018/19 season.

Civic Orchestra Library Fellowship

The Civic Orchestra is currently accepting applications for the Civic Library Fellowship to begin in the 2017/18 Season.

Please click here for details on how to apply.