The Civic Orchestra of Jacksonville is a volunteer classical music orchestra. Members donate their time and talents to cultivate classical music connoisseurship through education, performance and collaborative programing. Civic Orchestra concerts are informal and free.
To create symphonic music for everyone
To create an extraordinary music experience that realizes the potential of our musicians and illuminates the power of collective effort
Founded in 2016, the Civic Orchestra of Jacksonville is a 501(C)3
not-for-profit community orchestra.
We’re thrilled that northeast Florida now has a community ensemble that enables us to play big works by Beethoven, Bizet, Grainger, Khachaturian, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Saint- Saëns, and other great composers of the past, but also affords us a chance to introduce recently-written music to our audiences. We believe in building our community by being a model of volunteerism. We hope to bridge cultural gaps by performing in all sorts of venues: a cathedral, a synagogue, a distillery, a museum, a zoo! We’re an orchestra that wants all the arts to thrive along the First Coast. So, we collaborate with ballet companies, opera singers, and visual artists to create unique concert experiences. We want a fabulous classical music experience to be accessible to everyone. That’s why our concerts are…FREE! We’re still a new ensemble, but already, we have quite a following! We’re grateful for that! Rest assured we’ve got more music in store!
Many of you have been asking – How did the Civic Orchestra of Jacksonville get started? It’s an interesting story and I’d love to share it with you – what I’ve learned and why we need your support to continue in our our mission of presenting free classical music concerts to people of all ages and ethnicities, with a focus on families and children in low income neighborhoods.
Like so many children, I had not been exposed to classical music. I was in college when I attended my first classical music concert. The violin stirred emotions in me that I’d never experienced. It felt like a tsunami had washed over me. That night, I decided to learn to play the violin with the audacious idea of someday playing in an orchestra.
In moving to Jacksonville in the late 90s, I continued to study violin, but without and ensemble to encourage growth, my development was slow and erratic. I had nearly given up. Then, one day, a neighbor who had played in community orchestras all across the country helped me to put a post on Facebook to see if there might be interest in creating an ensemble. Never could we image that 35 musicians would respond within 3 hours!
I look back on the founding of the Civic Orchestra of Jacksonville in 2016 and think of the magic moment of receiving our official not-for profit status. I also think of the challenges of preparing for our very first concert. Indeed, starting an orchestra was no easy task! There was rehearsal space to find as well as venues willing to open their doors for our free concerts. Percussion instruments needed to be purchased – who knew the expense of buying timpani – and sheet music to purchase. (Some pieces cost nearly $1,000 to perform.) Most importantly, we needed to find the right conductor. Luckily, along came Marguerite, who quickly attracted the additional musicians needed to play these grand symphonic works ofDvořák, Brahms and Beethoven.
Our beginnings were humble. Since Jacksonville lacked a community orchestra, many of our musicians had not had the opportunity to play symphonic music since high school or college. The stories of musician dedication continue to astound me: a trumpet player showing up at dress rehearsal 24 hours after his first child was born; a string player coming directly to rehearsal after working the night shift. Each musician is up here on stage because of a passion for symphonic music. It gives us great joy to practice and improve our playing. It is a thrill to provide our community with free concerts and receptions that build bridges between neighborhoods. Equally rewarding is going out into the public schools and exposing students to this powerful music through our educational outreach program.
Founder and President