Civic Orchestra celebrates 100th anniversary with a virtual concert

A photo collage of the Civic Orchestra musicians who participated in the Civic’s virtual concert, set for March 29 as a Facebook Premiere event.

Though Symphony Center is closed, one event will go on: The Civic Orchestra of Chicago will celebrate its 100th anniversary with a virtual concert on March 29, beginning at 7 p.m. (Central Time). The concert, a Facebook Premiere event, will feature the world premieres of seven works that the Civic commissioned just for this occasion.

When the Civic’s previously scheduled concert had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, its administrators came up with an alternative plan. To that end, more than 60 Civic musicians, each performing remotely, recorded an excerpt of the fourth movement of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. A video editor and musician, Christopher Bill, then compiled the individual recordings into a full symphony performance.

After the Tchaikovsky, the concert will continue with the world premieres of seven pieces composed to celebrate the Civic’s 100th anniversary. Written in response to global challenges triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, and inspired in part by the Civic musicians’ recording of the Tchaikovsky excerpt, the works are by composers Josh Fink, Nathalie Joachim, Liza Sobel, Ted Moore, Peter S. Shin, Marta Tiesenga and LJ White.

The program, which will last approximately 35 minutes and will occur 100 years to the day of the Civic’s first-ever performance, will be a Facebook Premiere event, hosted on the Civic’s Facebook platform. (To watch “live,” please RSVP on Facebook or watch on the CSO’s YouTube channel.) The virtual concert also will feature video messages from Ken-David Masur, the Civic’s principal conductor, and CSO (and Civic alumni) musicians.

After March 29, the program also will be available on the Civic’s Facebook and the CSO’s YouTube platforms.

Founded in the 1919-20 season by Frederick Stock, the CSO’s second music director, the Civic is a training ensemble for emerging professional musicians. The CSO remains the only major U.S. orchestra with such an ensemble. The Civic is a program of the CSO’s Negaunee Music Institute.

After the Civic’s virtual concert, WFMT-FM will offer a CSO Radio broadcast beginning at 8 p.m. March 29 (Central Time), available over the air at 98.7 FM or at The program features conductor Alain Altinoglu leading the CSO and Chicago Symphony Chorus in Poulenc’s Gloria and Gounod’s St. Cecilia Mass, and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen leading the CSO in Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite.

The 2019-2020 Civic Orchestra of Chicago season is sponsored by The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation. The Civic’s virtual concert is co-sponsored by Lisa and Paul Wiggin and Lori Julian for the Julian Family Foundation. Additional sponsorship for the 100th anniversary concert provided by Civic alumni including Liisa Thomas, Peter Gallanis, Paul Brown, Paula Johannesen, Sonia Mantell, Patrick O’Meara and Douglas Rosenthal. The Centennial Campaign for the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and Chicago Symphony Orchestra Concerts for Young People is supported by a lead gift from the Julian Family Foundation. This program is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council Agency.