The Charlotte Civic Orchestra is a civic orchestra of and for the
citizens of the Charlotte region. Through an educational entertainment
approach, the CCO is able to break down the traditional barriers that
can limit exploration of symphony music by new listeners. While other
orchestras tend to be guided by established precedents and higher
overhead costs, the Civic is more flexible in adapting to the needs and
moods of its potential audiences. The CCO creates an approachable
environment of exploring and learning about music, for its audience with
enjoyable and informative concert discussions along with partnerships
with other nonprofit organizations.
Collaborative educational events encourage students to participate in
the process of creating and learning about music through our Composers
in Schools and other like initiatives. All
of these factors provide the Charlotte Civic Orchestra phenomenal
potential to reach new and diverse listeners who, in turn, may become
new attendees for other arts organizations in the area.
Charlotte Civic Orchestra began in 1986 as a course in symphonic music at
Central Piedmont Community College under the direction of Melvin Sipe,
legendary founding conductor of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. (The
group’s name at the time was the Charlotte Repertory Orchestra, but was
changed in 2002 to more accurately reflect the orchestra’s mission). In
March 1990, the group incorporated as a not-for-profit organization
with a preliminary annual budget of approximately $1,500. Later that
year Maestro Sipe retired, and in the spring of 1991, the CCO hired Dr.
Stephen Plate as part-time music director. The orchestra’s first full
season was 1987-88, and since then has dedicated itself to performing a
diverse and challenging repertoire with an emphasis on American
composers. The orchestra has also focused on dispelling the stereotypes
that separate much of the general population from classical symphonic
music. Ticket prices have remained low, performances have continued to
feature a friendly, family oriented atmosphere, and outreach concerts
are offered in various venues throughout the community. The first such
performance was at West Charlotte High School in 1993, the year that the
CCO received its first basic operating grant from the Arts and Science
Council. At that time, the budget was approximately $35,000, and has
since grown to over $100,000. Alexander Kordzaia served as music
director from 2002 through 2005 as the CCO continued to grow musically
and gain a larger audience.
the orchestra added an Education and Outreach Program through a grant
from Arts Teach.
2007, Geoffrey Whitehead joined the CCO as our new music director.
We were awarded an additional grant to work with High School age
children in 2007.
For more than 20 years, the Charlotte Civic Orchestra has continued to
serve three distinct yet complimentary roles in the Charlotte Region:
(1) providing an opportunity for accomplished vocational musicians to
perform together: (2) delivering high-quality, affordable,
and accessible cultural experiences to diverse audiences and (3) an
educational program that involves school children that may never have
had the chance to work with an orchestra. The orchestra and
programs continue to evolve under the direction of our Music
Director, Geoffrey Whitehead. In 2004, the orchestra added an
Education and Outreach Program through a grant from Arts Teach. When the
first grant was awarded the orchestra started working with just middle
schools. For the 2007-2008 season, the orchestra was awarded a
second grant to work with high school students.
The CCO is a fully functioning, volunteer based 75-piece orchestra made
up of local musicians, many of whom are professionally trained. Players
are selected through competitive auditions that take place throughout
the year. Approximately one-fourth of the active musicians are charter
members; that is, they have played with CCO since the organization's
inception. The CCO is performing four concerts this season, which begins
in early fall and ends in May. Watch for us also at the Festival in the
Park in September.
Charlotte Civic Orchestra is a not-for–profit organization. Funding is
received from the ASC as wells as corporations such as Target, Duke
Energy and Microsoft Corporation. Other contributions come from
private donors and smaller business owners.