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Civic Orchestra of Chicago

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Thank you for your interest in applying to the Civic Orchestra's 2024/25 Season. 

Video Audition Application Deadline:
11:59pm Central Time on Friday, March 1, 2024


A fee of $85 applies for applications submitted by February 2, 2024 and a fee of $110 applies for applications submitted between February 3-March 1, 2024.
All application fees are non-refundable.


The Civic Orchestra of Chicago trains young professional musicians for careers in symphony orchestras. Under the guidance of Principal Conductor Ken-David Masur, a faculty of coaches from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and numerous luminary guest conductors including recent appearances by Riccardo Muti, Civic Members refine their skills and gain experience through monthly rehearsals, coachings, performances and workshops.

The Civic Orchestra rehearses and performs at historic Symphony Center in downtown Chicago. The mainstage concert series consists of approximately seven free performances in Orchestra Hall, as well as two or three performances in neighborhood venues including the South Shore Cultural Center and Chicago Public Schools. In addition, Civic Members may audition for the Civic Chamber Music Series, and the Civic Mentors Program, which includes coaching of youth in Chicago area school bands and orchestras.

Civic Members are taught by musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra through sectionals, studio classes, master classes and mock auditions. Members also receive complimentary tickets to most CSO concerts, and have the option of taking a private lesson with a CSO musician.

In general, each month of the season includes a concert cycle that’s comprised of approximately five rehearsals and a performance at Symphony Center or a neighborhood venue. As part of each cycle there are sectionals with CSO Coaches. Most rehearsals take place in the evening from 7-10pm on weekdays and during the day on weekends, and the majority of concerts occur on Monday’s at 7:30pm.

Periodically throughout the season Members also participate in workshops with guest clinicians, master classes, and select education and community engagement programming of the Negaunee Music Institute. Each Member is required to play a placement audition at the start of and midway through the season.

Below is a list of current CSO Coaches:

Robert Chen, Concertmaster
Baird Dodge, Principal Second Violin
Danny Lai, Viola
Max Raimi, Viola
John Sharp, Principal Cello
Brant Taylor, Cello
Richard Hirschl, Cello
Daniel Katz, Cello
Alexander Hanna, Principal Bass
Alexander Horton, Assistant Principal Bass
Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson, Principal Flute
Jennifer Gunn, Flute/Piccolo
Emma Gerstein, Flute
William Welter, Principal Oboe
Stephen Williamson, Principal Clarinet
John Bruce Yeh, Assistant Principal Clarinet and E-flat Clarinet
Keith Buncke, Principal Bassoon
William Buchman, Assistant Principal Bassoon
Daniel Gingrich, Associate Principal Horn
Esteban Batallán, Principal Trumpet
Michael Mulcahy, Trombone
Charles Vernon, Bass Trombone
Gene Pokorny, Principal Tuba
David Herbert, Principal Timpani
Vadim Karpinos, Assistant Principal Timpani
Cynthia Yeh, Principal Percussion
Sarah Bullen, Former Principal Harp
Mary Sauer, Former Principal Keyboard
Justin Vibbard, Principal Librarian


The Civic Fellowship Program provides supplementary training to a cohort of approximately 10-15 Civic Members with the goal of preparing them for multifaceted careers in music. Through a series of training workshops and the delivery of various programs, fellows develop skills and experience in artistic planning and chamber music performance, music education, community engagement and project management.

The 2024/25 Civic Fellowship curriculum will tentatively consist of the following:  

  • Serve as leaders within the Civic Orchestra, taking on expanded roles in community-focused projects of the full orchestra.
  • Curate and perform chamber music concerts at Symphony Center and other venues throughout Greater Chicago with an emphasis on contemporary music.
  • Participate in arts-integration partnerships with Chicago Public Schools.
  • Mentor young musicians as part of the Chicago Youth in Music Festival.
  • Participate in the Negaunee Music Institute’s Notes for Peace project, which supports parents who have lost children to gun violence.
  • Receive coaching and attend workshops led by world-renowned faculty including musicians of the CSO and other guest artists.
  • Meet regularly as a cohort with staff to plan and reflect on Fellowship activity.
  • Participate in training that further develops public speaking, fundraising, artistic planning, classroom management and advocacy skills.

Click here to read more about the Civic Fellowship Program


Regular Membership

Participation in the Civic Orchestra is a part-time commitment, which ensembles Members to pursue additional educational and professional opportunities on their own outside of the program.

Each year, Civic Regular Members receive a stipend that is paid bi-monthly and intended to offset living expenses. For the 2024/25 season, each Regular Member of the Civic Orchestra will receive a stipend of $9,500, contingent upon completion of all required activities.

Most new Regular Members are offered an initial two-year term in the program and may be invited to audition for a third season. Membership beyond the first season is not guaranteed and select members may be asked to re-audition or undergo a performance review.

Regular Membership Eligibility

To join the Civic Orchestra as a Regular Member an applicant must be 18 years of age or older and have, at minimum, a high school diploma. While there is no maximum age limit, 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 are required to live within Greater Chicago because the season schedule does not accommodate long distance commuting.

International applicants, please see additional information below.


Fellowship auditions are open to new, incoming Civic Members on a season-by-season basis, as well as to current Regular Members who will continue in the orchestra the following season.  

Fellowship auditions are open to all instruments, however, depending upon the matriculation of current fellows, 2024/25 fellowships may not be available for all instruments.  Learn about the Civic Fellowship in the Program Overview tab above.

For the 2024/25 season, Civic Members selected for the Fellowship will receive an all-inclusive stipend of $19,000 as compensation for their participation as Civic Fellows and as Regular Members of Civic, contingent upon completion of all required activities.


Civic Fellows must first be accepted as a Regular Member of the Civic Orchestra and possess at least a Bachelor’s degree. Civic Fellows may not be enrolled in a degree or certificate program while a Civic Fellow. Applicants enrolled in a degree or certificate program may only apply for Regular or Associate Membership.

Applicants who have been accepted as Regular Members and who have also applied for a Civic Fellowship must participate in a live interview (via Zoom). Interviews will take place in spring of 2024. Applicants who are advanced to the Fellowship interview process will be notified of their status on April 1, 2024 and contacted to schedule an interview.

International applicants, please see additional information below.

Associate Membership (Substitute/Extras List)

Musicians accepted as Associate Members are offered a one-season membership, and are contacted on an as-needed basis as extra/substitute musicians. An Associate Member may be called upon to fill a vacant position in the event a Regular Member leaves a position during the season. Compensation for each concert cycle is on a per-project basis and the stipend amount offered to Associate Members will vary based on the length of concert cycles. The Civic Orchestra does not provide reimbursement for travel or hotel accommodation expenses. International Associate Members will need to provide proof of eligibility to work in the United States for the duration of the agreed upon services.


To join the Civic Orchestra as an Associate Member an individual must be 18 years of age or older and must have, at minimum, a high school diploma. Most Members are between the ages of 22 and 30 and are either graduate level students or post-graduates with a Bachelor’s degree. It is recommended that Associate members reside in the greater Chicago area as they are often contacted between two to three weeks prior to a concert cycle.

International applicants, please see additional information below.


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. Accepted forms of visas include F-1 status (with CPT or OPT), O-1 status, or Permanent Residency (Green Card). The Civic Orchestra is unable to offer any visa sponsorship for Members.

For technical question please visit the Acceptd Helpdesk.