The Charlotte Civic Orchestra (CCO)

The CCO is a volunteer-based 75-piece full symphony orchestra made up of local musicians, including professionals, semi-professionals, and hobbyists. The CCO rehearses weekly in order to perform 4-6 concerts annually. Our repertoire  includes classical masterpieces and symphonies as well as pops favorites.

We are located in Charlotte, NC, USA, a suburban city of about 2.5 million people, where we perform around town at various public auditoriums, churches, synagogues, and uptown Charlotte in the Halton Theater of Central Piedmont Community College.


Our mission is to enrich our community through musicians, sharing the universal gift of orchestral music


CCO Conductors

The 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 it was changed in 2002 to more accurately reflect the orchestra’s mission.

1987 Article
August 1987 Newspaper Article
1989 Program

In March 1990, the group incorporated as a non-profit organization with a preliminary annual budget of approximately $1,500. Later that year Maestro Sipe retired. 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 in which the CCO received its first basic operating grant from the Arts and Science Council.

1993 Brochure
1993 Brochure

Alexander Kordzaia served as music director from 2002 through 2005 as the CCO continued to grow musically and gain a larger audience. In 2004, the orchestra added an Education and Outreach Program through a grant from Arts Teach. 

2003 Brochure
2005 Orchestra

In 2007, Dr. Geoffrey Whitehead joined the CCO as its Music Director and continues his dedication through today. Geoffrey has taken the musicality of the organization to new heights. Just within the past few years alone, the CCO has performed 16 full symphonies including Beethoven, Dvorak, Mahler, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Vaughn Williams, 22 major classical works, 8 overtures, 14 concertos featuring CCO musicians as soloists, 7 new compositions, 5 Charlotte premier new compositions, and numerous orchestral arrangements of popular tunes and movie themes.

2006 - 2007 Brochure
2007 - 2008 Brochure

In the 2012-2013 season, the CCO expanded on its three year tradition of prior successful Holiday concerts, and began a Christmas Spectacular tradition, featuring 300 singers, vocal soloists, ballet dancers, jazz style dancers, and a master of ceremonies. The event sold out to a crowd of 1,400 patrons, the largest in CCO history. We hope to continue the tradition in years to come and expand the idea further to other programming concepts and entertainment events. In the 2012-2013 season the CCO had three at-capacity sell-out concerts, another first for the CCO, our most attended season ever.

 Read more from the Charlotte Observer here 

CCO by Paul Purses Copyrighted
City of Charlotte Proclamation

For more than 30 years now, the Charlotte Civic Orchestra has continued to serve three distinct yet complimentary roles in the Charlotte Region:

  • providing an opportunity for accomplished vocational musicians to perform together,
  • delivering high-quality, affordable, and accessible cultural experiences to diverse audiences, and
  • provide an educational program that strives to involve school children that may never have had the chance to interact with an orchestra.