Applications for the Civic Orchestra of Chicago’s 2018/19 Season are now closed. Final results will be sent via email on or before Monday April 2, 2018.


About the Civic Orchestra

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 emerging professional musicians unique access to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) through immersive experiences with the musicians of the CSO and some of today’s most sought-after conductors, including world-renowned CSO Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti. With additional guidance from 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, select Civic Orchestra performances can be heard locally on WFMT (98.7 FM).

Civic musicians also expand their creative, professional and artistic boundaries and reach diverse audiences through educational performances at Chicago Public Schools, “artistic challenges” led by Yo-Yo Ma, and a series of 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, as well as numerous Chicago Public Schools.

2018/19 will be the Civic Orchestra’s 100th season. In addition to the ongoing curriculum of experiences that are core to the Civic program, throughout 18/19 there will be special events, collaborations with extraordinary guest artists, new music projects, an expanded chamber music series, resources for the development of independent projects by Civic members, and more.

To further expand its musician training, the Civic Orchestra launched the Civic Fellowship program in the 2013/14 season. Now engaging fourteen members of the Civic Orchestra, Fellows participate in a rigorous curriculum above and beyond their orchestral activities that is designed to build and to diversify their creative and professional skills.

The Civic Orchestra is a signature program of the Negaunee Music Institute at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which offers a wide range of education and community programs that engage more than 200,000 people of diverse ages, incomes, and backgrounds each year, in Chicago and around the world. For more information on the Institute and its programs, please visit

The Civic Orchestra Fellowship and Regular & Associate 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. An Associate Member may be called upon to fill a vacant position if in the event a Regular Member leaves a position during the season. Compensation for each concert cycle is made on a per-project basis and the amount of stipend offered to Associate Members will vary based on the length of concert cycles. The Civic Orchestra does not provide reimbursement for travel or accommodation expenses. International Associate Members will need to provide proof of eligibility to work in the United States for the duration of the services agreed upon. The Civic Orchestra is unable to offer any visa sponsorship for Associate Members.


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.

The Civic Orchestra presents 7-8 concerts at Symphony Center and 2-3 performances in community locations, participates in 2-3 residencies with Yo-Yo Ma and/or other guest artists, and offers two open rehearsals with CSO Music Director Riccardo Muti. The Civic season also includes side-by-side rehearsals, coaching sessions, mock auditions and private lessons with CSO musicians, reading sessions with guest conductors, career development workshops, master classes with CSO guest artists as opportunities arise and numerous opportunities throughout the season to play chamber music.

Artistry. Music Education. Professional Development. Community Service.

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 empowers participants to realize their full potential as artistically excellent, collaborative, civically engaged, and entrepreneurial musicians.

See eligibility requirements below

Civic Orchestra Membership and Eligibility


Members of Civic Orchestra must be 18 years of age 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 accommodate commuting from out of state.


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, Civic Fellows may not be enrolled in a degree, diploma, or certificate program at any time during their fellowship. Applicants enrolled in a degree or certificate program may only apply for Regular or Associate Membership.


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). The Civic Orchestra is unable to offer visa sponsorship to Associate Members.

Audition Information

Applications for the Civic Orchestra of Chicago’s 2018/19 Season are now closed. Final results will be sent via email on or before Monday April 2, 2018.



Civic Orchestra Library Fellowship

The Civic Orchestra is not accepting Library Fellowship Applications at this time. Please continue to check here for updates.