Our Mission

The Austin Civic Orchestra’s mission is to bring the transformative power of orchestral music to the widest possible audience, present visionary educational programs, and foster the future of music through accessible, high-quality musical performances in the greater Austin area.

The Austin Civic Orchestra (ACO) is a non-profit civic organization that has been around since 1977. The ACO is devoted to bringing high quality music to the community and providing a musical outlet for professional and non-professional musicians alike. The ACO performs six to eight concerts each season, all of which offer programming to suit a wide variety of musical tastes, from traditional classics to pops and most everything in between. Presented at assorted convenient locations in the Austin area, the relaxed atmosphere and affordable cost have proven appealing to this community.  Our educational programs for youth and adults foster the appreciation of classical music.

Interested in the ACO? There are many different opportunities to get involved and support our mission. Find out more today!

Music Director

Dr. Veronica Salinas

Dr. Veronica Salinas holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance and a Master of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX. In 2012, she earned her Doctorate in Musical Arts in Viola Performance at Texas Tech University under a full scholarship as an AT&T Chancellor’s Fellow. She has taught at all grade levels from elementary to the collegiate level, most recently having served as the Associate Professor of Strings at Texas A&M University in Kingsville, Music Director for the Kingsville Symphony Orchestra, and Director of Mariachi Javelina.

While in Kingsville she implemented the first ever Strings Project called JAVELINA Strings Youth Orchestra. In this Strings Project, KISD students attend free after school classes to learn to play in orchestra. This also serves as a training ground for college students to gain experiential learning in the orchestra classroom. In her first four years in Kingsville, she secured over $150,000 in funding through grants and fundraising efforts in this rural area to promote outreach initiatives and community programming with the Kingsville Symphony Orchestra.

She maintains her performance skills on and off the podium by performing on the viola as the Assistant Principal Violist in the Victoria Symphony Orchestra. In the conducting arena, she has held conducting fellowships at the Los Angeles Conducting Institute in San Diego, California, the Allentown Symphony Orchestra in Allentown, Pennsylvania, the International Conducting Institute in New York City, and the International Conducting Workshop and Festival in Sofia, Bulgaria. Additionally, she has served as the clinician and conductor for several region orchestras in Texas.

Dr. Salinas brings a wealth of knowledge from the non-profit and education industries. As the Artistic Administrator at OPERA San Antonio, she she oversaw the financial management of the company and co-wrote several funded grants including the National Endowment for the Arts, Texas Commission on the Arts, and the Kronkosky Foundation. Currently, Dr. Salinas serves as the Director of Orchestras for Bush Middle School in the North East Independent School District where she was recently voted Teacher of the Year at her campus and as also an NEISD District Teacher of the Year Finalist.

Service to her community is extremely important to Dr. Salinas and as such has held executive positions as a representative for the Texas Music Educators Association as the Region 12 Middle School Coordinator. In this role, she helped to support outstanding middle school orchestra students from all districts in Region 12, which include NEISD, Alamo Heights ISD, Comal ISD, Judson ISD and Schertz/Cibolo ISD by organizing performing opportunities for the Region 12 Orchestra Clinics and Concerts each fall. Region Orchestra is an excellent performance opportunity, as well as an honor, for those students who successfully audition to be members. She also in her free time, she serves as a Grant Panelist for the City of San Antonio Department of Arts and Culture where she reviews Artists Grants and Production Cost Grants.

Dr. Salinas is thrilled to be selected as the new Music Director for the Austin Civic Orchestra and is looking forward to promoting the mission of ACO by the following: cultivating outreach programming for children and young adults, nurturing collaborations with local performing arts groups, and providing the citizens of Austin emotional and engaging musical experiences.

Associate Conductor

Dr. W.P. Sterneman III

Gus has been with the ACO since 2014 and currently serves as Associate Conductor. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Theory from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas; a Master’s degree from Butler University in Indianapolis with a double major in Conducting and Music History; and a Doctorate in Opera and Musical Theatre Conducting at Arizona State University.

In addition to his work with the ACO, Gus serves as the Director of Worship and Arts at Abiding Love Lutheran Church. Gus is also the Music Director for the Heart of Texas Chorus, an acappella barbershop chorus in San Marcos, and is an active clinician with the Barbershop Harmony Society. His passion for stagecraft can be seen on display with Austin’s One Ounce Opera as their Technical Director.

Gus spends his free time playing tabletop games with his wife, teaching his two children the finer points of musical theatre, and practicing his passion for lutherie. He feels Menotti is the epitome of English text setting and hesitantly admits to preferring Verdi over Wagner, but always comes home to Beethoven. He enjoys a good pun, but loves a really bad one. And coffee. Lots of coffee.

Music Director Emeritus

Dr. Lois Ferrari

Italian-American conductor Lois Ferrari served as Music Director of the Austin Civic Orchestra from 2002-2023. During her tenure, Maestra Ferrari was awarded 2nd place (2010, 2016, and 2019) and Finalist (2014) for the American Prize in community orchestra conducting. In 2010, she was honored as the first woman to conduct an orchestral performance at the Long Center for the Performing Arts in Austin. Over the years, Dr. Ferrari brought many celebrated guest artists to the ACO stage, including David Amram, Peter Bay, Lauren Lane, Jessica Mathaes, Anton Nel, Michelle Schumann, and David Whitwell.

Dr. Ferrari was also intimately involved with nurturing future virtuosi through the ACO’s Pearl Amster Youth Concerto Festival and Chamber Music Program, and with the Texas Rising Stars Concert, presented in collaboration with the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas.

An enthusiastic champion of new music, Maestra Ferrari founded the ACO Composition Contest and is proud to have premiered nearly thirty works during the course of her career. One such work was nominated by the Austin Critics’ Table for Best Symphonic Performance of 2009. In 2012, Dr. Ferrari and the ACO were commissioned by composer David Amram to present the Texas premiere of his Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie.

‚ÄčDr. Ferrari is also Professor Emeritus of Music at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas and was a member of its distinguished faculty for nearly 30 years. Dr. Ferrari conducted the SU Orchestra and Wind Ensemble, taught conducting, and served as host and clinician for the SU Conductors’ Institute in Instrumental conducting.

Maestra Ferrari has served as clinician and guest conductor for all-state, all-county, all-region, and all-city ensembles, from Texas to New York and Washington states. She has also taught music in New York state, for the Levittown and Marcus Whitman public schools.

‚ÄčA graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where she received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting, Dr. Ferrari received a full doctoral fellowship and was appointed Associate Conductor of the renowned Eastman Wind Ensemble. She also earned a Master of Music degree in conducting and a Bachelor of Music degree with a double major in performance and music education from the Ithaca College School of Music. Her principal teachers were Donald Hunsberger, Rodney Winther, David Effron, Pamela Gearhart, Larry Doebler, and Donald Neuen.

Originally from Deer Park, NY, Maestra Ferrari now resides in Lewes, Delaware with her husband, Dr. Paul Gaffney, and their black sister kitties, Hilda and Zelda. Extra-musical interests include: cooking, golf, writing, and motorcycle riding.


Violin I

Carolyn Richards-Chacon | Concertmaster
Eun Cho
Raymond D’Alessio
Erika Elder
Tavia Ewen
Raymundo Garcia
Jordan Jhaveri
Vivian Kwong
Matthew Moore
Kate Morics
Lynn Petro
Clint Plumlee
Dawn Smith
Sol Swords

Violin II

Dario Landazuri | Principal
Kyle Bryson | Assistant
Deborah Byers
Ferris Duhon
Dianne Eichenseer
Andrew Goolsbee
Carrie Houston
Evan Nave
Vastian Sitler
Ellen Williams


Eugene Gott | Principal
Brett Osburn | Assistant
Tyler Chen
David Kaplan
Mark Leger
Art Monzingo
Amanda Tofflemire
Ronda von Sehrwald
Paul Zagieboylo


Jarrod Tuikka | Principal
Tani Barr | Assistant
Ben Bachmeier
Sarah Crawford
Caroline Magee
Meagan O’Neal
Caleb Sebolt
Isabel Tweraser
John Whitney

Double Bass

James Sproat | Principal
Kathy Petheram | Assistant
Louis Handy
Garret Jaynes
Noah Miller


Lisa Lamb | Principal



Marcia Gillespie-Norder | Principal
Mattie Baker
Brian Teran, Piccolo


Madeline Warner | Principal
Trish Olives
Margie Yankeelov


YuHua Oliphint | Principal
Kelsey Behnfeldt
Laura Gorman
Stephen Savage


Amy Crandell | Principal
Melissa Vauk


French Horn

Christine Simpson | Principal
Alyssa Collins
Kathy Nolen
Toni Powell
Denise Stiglich


Jose Yznaga | Principal
Randy Howard
Rick Kutcher


Amelia Rosenberger | Principal
Jesse Nolen
Robert Tung (Bass)


Mike Lynch | Principal

Percussion and Piano


JJ Pereira | Principal
Kyle Garza
Alex Willhelm


Lan-Thach Kratzke | Principal


Alan Smith | Principal


The Austin Civic Orchestra performs and operates under the leadership of the Board of Directors, Officers of the Board, and Orchestra Staff.

Board of Directors

The function of the Board of Directors is to oversee budget management, publicity, venue selection, and fundraising. The following is a list of the ACO board.

Brett Osburn
Aurel Garza-Tucker
Vice President & Assistant Education Director
Isabel Tweraser
Secretary & Diversity Director
Melissa Vauk
Andrew Goolsbee
Technology Director
Tracy Bidot
Richard Edmonson
Tidimogo Gaamangwe
Meagan O’Neal
Morgan Harrell
Stephen Savage
Amanda Tofflemire

Orchestra Staff

The following key staff members bring high-quality classical music to the stage.

Dr. Veronica Salinas
Music Director
Dr. W.P. Sterneman III
Associate Conductor
Amy Crandell
Executive Director
Andrew Christjoy
Public Relations and Marketing Manager
Grace George
Director of Annual Giving & Stewardship
Luciano Medina
Operations Manager
Yvette Murray
Grant Writer
Jose Yznaga