In the fall of 1952,

a group of musicians from the Twin Cities metropolitan area organized as an orchestra under the leadership of Henry Denecke, timpanist with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. The premiere concert of the Civic Orchestra of Minneapolis was held on May 5, 1953. For many of its first years, the Civic rehearsed in the auditorium of Schmitt Music, one of its earliest supporters.Tom Nee, assistant professor of music at Hamline University, assumed leadership of the Civic in 1954 and helped build it into a leading community orchestra.founder1 Under his direction, the Civic Orchestra of Minneapolis established a commissioning fund to encourage the composition of contemporary music and commissioned its first work in 1957.The Civic has continued to support composers and contemporary music by performing numerous commissions and premieres throughout its fifty years. Long noted for its innovative programming, the Orchestra has received eleven awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), a prestigious number for an orchestra of its size. The latest award was given in the Spring of 1999 by the American Symphony Orchestra League in recognition of the Orchestra’s performance of works by American composers. The Civic premiered its twentieth commissioned work, by composer William McGlaughlin, on March 17, 2002.

Today, the Civic Orchestra of Minneapolis, a nonprofit organization, is the oldest community orchestra in Minneapolis. It is comprised of players drawn from all walks of life. Its mission is to focus on community enrichment and interaction – to bring music to people of all ages and interests. It has grown and flourished under the direction of Cary John Franklin, Music Director since 1994.

The Civic Orchestra of Minneapolis has been sustained for sixty plus years in no small part due to the talent of its music directors:

1952-54 Henry Denecke, Founder and Timpanist, MN Orchestra
1954-67 Thomas Nee
1968-70 James MacInnes
1970-72 Lea Foli, Concertmaster of the MN Orchestra
1972-73 Thomas Nee
1973-74 Henry Charles Smith, Assoc.Conductor, the MN Orchestra
1974-75 Clynn Dee Barrus, Principal Violist of the MN Orchestra.
1975-92 Robert Bobzin
1993-94 Myles Hernandez
1994-present Cary John Franklin

If you are interested in playing with us, please fill out the contact form, and we’ll get in touch with you.Like us on Facebook!We hope to see you at a concert soon.