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 young professional musicians unique access to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) through training with the musicians of the 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 engaged artists.
The Civic Orchestra provides its members with opportunities to develop important skills to make professional lives in music. Civic Orchestra members rehearse and perform at the historic Symphony Center, develop deep connections with CSO musicians through sectional rehearsals, private lessons, side-by-side rehearsals, mock auditions, and career development conversations. The Civic Orchestra also provides opportunities to attend CSO rehearsals open only to Civic members and 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 and wide array of performances in neighborhoods and schools throughout the Chicagoland.
Select members are also 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 importance of the Civic Orchestra’s role in greater Chicago is underscored by its commitment to present concerts of the highest quality at no charge to the public. In addition to the critically acclaimed live concerts at Symphony Center, Civic Orchestra performances can be heard locally on WFMT (98.7 FM) and by nearly three million listeners in nationally syndicated radio broadcasts on 160 broadcast outlets in 30 states. These are made possible through a generous gift from the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation.
The Civic Orchestra is a signature program of the Negaunee Music Institute at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The Institute offers Learning and Training Programs that annually engage more than 200,000 people of diverse backgrounds.
Learn more information about the Institute and its programs