Made in America

2017-2018 Season

During the 2017-2018 concert season, the Austin Civic Orchestra will continue to embrace the classics as well as explore the future. Music Director Lois Ferrari believes that in order for classical music to truly realize its potential as a relevent and important art form it must embrace its future as much as its past. With this in mind, the ACO will continue to experiment with programming that presents beloved classics alongside new and/or eclectic works, some of which might be considered off-beat, cross-genre, or even radical. We are also planning to continue our pre-concert talks as well as raffle off to the audience reserved seats within the orchestra!

This season will be totally dedicated to American composers! You will hear music from the more familiar composers such as Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, and George Gershwin, as well as works written by Joan Tower, Philip Glass, Jennifer Higdon, and Austin’s own Dan Welcher and Donald Grantham.

Embracing the Classics, Exploring the Future

Thanks to our 2016-2017 sponsors!

    This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department.


News & Notes


Support the ACO with a business ad!

Ads in our season program are a great way for your business to support the ACO while increasing your visibility within the community.  Check out this page for the details.


Austin-Area Students Experience Classical Music Through Art
Nearly 1,300 children from four schools in Central Texas participated in the Austin Civic Orchestra’s first annual Paint to Music contest, open to students from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade.  

The young artists created artwork while listening to a movement from Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony. Teachers from the participating schools — Cedar Creek Elementary School, Hyde Park Elementary School, Dripping Springs Elementary School and Holy Family Catholic School — selected the top pieces to submit for the contest, a total of 303 works.

“Through Paint to Music, we encourage our youth to explore the language of music and experience how it enhances creative expression,” said ACO Education Director Kathy Murdock.

Kathy and Zoey Upshaw, founder and principal instructor of Austin Creative Art Center, along with ACO President Amy Crandell, evaluated submissions and selected winning pieces to showcase in a free art show on May 13 from 6-7:30 p.m. in the lobby of Bates Recital Hall. Following the show, the Austin Civic Orchestra will perform the Tchaikovsky symphony and classical music with Spanish flair as part of its Golden concert.

Get the details and purchase tickets to the concert >

We talked with Tracy Lake, an educator whose students participated in Paint to Music, about the experience. Tracy is general music and choir director at Holy Family Catholic School, teaching pre-kindergarten through 5th grade. Read an excerpt of the interview:

How did your students respond to the first listening of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony?

The students thoroughly enjoyed their first listening to the symphony. “Wow, that’s really cool!” was a common response. Their favorite movement was the second movement.
How did you help your students engage with the symphony before creating their artwork?

The students experienced the analysis videos that were provided. Then, we listened to each movement and the students shared ideas of what it might look like or what story might go with the music. The students were also encouraged to move to the music as they experienced it. The older students were also allowed to brainstorm in words or picture before we dove into the actual art for the contest.
How did your students feel about creating their art?

Only a couple of students were leery of the assignment. Most of the students were really serious about their drawings and could not wait to share what they had drawn.
Did creating art help your students explore classical music?

Yes, giving them the freedom to listen to all of the elements and not focus on one or two helped them to really hear the different instruments and how the music was put together. Many students are still humming various motifs!
As an educator, what did you enjoy about the project?

I appreciated the push outside of my curriculum box and the opportunity to give them some extra freedom within experiencing art and music together.

Zoey Upshaw and Kathy Murdock discuss an entry by a pre-K student.

A Paint to Music submission from a 5th grade student.


Lois Ferrari selected 2nd place for the American Prize
Dr. Lois Ferrari, ACO Music Director, has been chosen as 2nd place for the 2016-17 American Prize in Conducting - community orchestra division.  Congratulations to Dr. Ferrari!


ACO named 2nd place for the American Prize
The Austin Civic Orchestra has been selected as 2nd place for the 2016-17 American Prize in Orchestral Performance - community orchestra division.


ACO on "Performance Today" April 5
The ACO was featured on "Performance Today" broadcast on KMFA 89.5 FM on Wednesday, April 5.

The featured piece "Polo Battle" - part of a suite of songs from the short film Killing Snakes -  was written by local musician Rick del Castillo and arranged for orchestra by local musician George Oldziey.  Performing the piece with the Austin Civic Orchestra (Lois Ferrari, music director) and the Latin rock band Del Castillo was a full chorus of musicians from Austin Community College (Virginia Volpe, Director) and the St. Edward's University Choirs (Morris Stevens, Director).   The performance took place in the Dell Hall at the Long Center on Sept. 20, 2015.

KMFA also streams live at