Civic Orchestra of Chicago

Since 1919, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago has trained thousands of emerging professional musicians to further their craft and create fulfilling lives in music. Founded by Frederick Stock, second music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Civic Orchestra is the only one of its kind affiliated with a major American orchestra.

Under the guidance of the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant Yo-Yo Ma, CSO Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti and guest artists, Civic Orchestra musicians develop as exceptional musicians and engaged artists, cultivating their ability to succeed in the constantly evolving world of music. 

The importance of the Civic Orchestra’s role in greater Chicago is underscored by its commitment to present the high quality concerts free or at low cost 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 through 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 also provides its members opportunities to use music to contribute to our communities and the lives of others. The Civic Orchestra 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 across the city including Chicago Park District field houses, the National Museum of Mexican Art Zhou B Art Center, and the University of Chicago’s Logan Center for the Arts. 

To further expand its musician training, the Civic Orchestra launched a fellowship program in the 2013–14 season. Select members chosen as Civic Fellows participate in a rigorous curriculum above and beyond their orchestral activities 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. 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 Chicago Symphony Orchestra champions the extraordinary power of music to create connections and build community.