Since 1919, young artists have sought membership in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago to develop their talents and to further prepare for careers as professional musicians. 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 through hands-on training experiences with the musicians of the CSO and some of today’s most sought-after conductors, including world-renowned CSO Music Director Riccardo Muti. Under the guidance of principal conductor Cliff Colnot and CSO Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant Yo-Yo Ma, Civic Orchestra musicians develop as exceptional orchestral players and engaged artists, cultivating their ability to succeed in the rapidly evolving world of music in the twenty-first century.
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.
Since 1997, the Civic Orchestra has provided its members opportunities to develop as teachers, advocates, and ambassadors for using the power of music to contribute to our culture, our communities, and the lives of others. The Civic musicians expand their creative, professional, and artistic boundaries through educational performances at Chicago Public Schools and a series of innovative chamber concerts at various locations throughout the city including Chicago Park District field houses, the National Museum of Mexican Art and Zhou B Art Center.
The Civic Orchestra’s long history of presenting full orchestra performances without charge includes concerts at the South Shore Cultural Center (in partnership with the South Shore Advisory Council), the Apostolic Church of God, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School and the New Regal Theater.
The Civic Orchestra is a signature program of the Negaunee Music Institute at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The Negaunee Institute offers a wide range of youth, community, and education programs that engage more than 200,000 people of diverse ages, incomes and backgrounds. Through the programs of the Institute as well as projects at schools and community venues that are initiated by CSO musicians and a free annual concert with Riccardo Muti and the CSO, the CSO champions the extraordinary power of music to create connections and build community.