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 cso.org/institute.