Our Mission

To foster an appreciation for the transformative power of orchestral music through high-quality musical performances and educational experiences for the Austin community.

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.

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

Music Director Finalists

Veronica Salinas, conducting the Nov. 5, 2023 concert

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 to promote this program as well as 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 as well as playing on the violin or viola in several other Texas regional orchestras. 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.

Currently, Dr. Salinas serves as the Director of Orchestras for Bush Middle School in the North East Independent School District. Most formerly, she was appointed as the Artistic Administrator for OPERA San Antonio where she managed daily operations for the company including marketing, grant research, financial management, and contracting.

Dr. Salinas also serves as a representative for the Texas Music Educators Association as the Region 12 Middle School Coordinator. In this role, she helps 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.

Dr. Salinas is thrilled to be selected as one of the three conducting finalists for the Music Director position at the Austin Civic Orchestra in Austin, Texas.

Richard Frazier, conducting the March 9, 2024 concert

Richard C. Frazier’s musical involvement spans a lifetime: He remembers listening to music on a homemade radio as a three-year-old! With a bachelor’s degree in applied music and a master’s degree in music education from Texas Tech University, Mr. Frazier has served as a conductor and performed as an instrumentalist and vocalist for over 40 years.

Mr. Frazier began his musical career as a trombonist. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Trombone Performance, playing with university jazz bands, professional jazz bands, as well as professional touring bands and combos. Primarily a jazz soloist, he was honored to perform with Louis Bellson, Rich Matteson, Phil Wilson, Bob Hope, and many others. He studied jazz improvisation with Bill Snodgrass at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas. He further pursued his love of jazz music in clinics and camps with David Baker, Jamey Aebersold, David Liebman, and numerous others. While working on his master’s degree, he spent countless hours in private lessons studying string, brass, woodwinds, and percussion instruments to better prepare for his teaching career. His focus also included conducting, composition, and arranging. Although a loyal Red Raider, Frazier participated in conducting workshops at the University of Texas with Jerry Junkin, Bob Renolds, Dick Floyd, Tom Lee, and Texas Tech with Gary Lewis. Additionally, he studied string pedagogy intensively with the best educators in America at the National String Teachers summer workshop in Michigan.

He currently performs primarily as a vocalist and clinics bands and orchestras. He enjoys composing and arranging and has written numerous arrangements for orchestra, marching band, voice and orchestra, choir, jazz band, and chamber groups. He was a marching band drill designer for many years, writing drills for bands across the United States. Additionally, Mr. Frazier composed the full orchestra sight reading music for UIL competition in Texas for several years.

Mr. Frazier began teaching after spending his twenties in the retail music business. He fell in love with strings and orchestras the first time he heard a live concert. After completing his master’s degree, he taught orchestra and band in Amarillo ISD, then band in Salado ISD. He moved to Austin to work at Westwood High School and Grisham Middle School teaching band and assisting with the orchestras. During his time assisting at Westwood, the orchestra received its first TMEA Honor Orchestra Award and Mr. Frazier was honored to conduct the Westwood orchestra on a European tour of Germany and Austria. Near the end of his time at Westwood, Mr. Frazier became an adjunct professor of strings at Texas Lutheran University. While at TLU he taught string pedagogy and conducted their orchestra.

In 2001 he moved to Anderson High School in Austin and was there for twenty years as the orchestra director and Fine Arts Department Chair. While at Anderson, the orchestra grew and became a consistent UIL Sweepstakes award winner. During his tenure, many of his students won individual awards and followed up with careers in music and/or continue to perform in local ensembles as adults. As department chair, Mr. Frazier spent countless hours securing funding and supporting all the arts programs. In addition to Fine Arts, he coordinated school-wide renovations of the theater and dance gym; the creation of a host of new classrooms; the construction of the technology/engineering building; and other improvement projects. He is very proud not only of the Anderson Fine Arts department’s outstanding record of success but also of the accomplishments of the entire school community. Mr. Frazier brought his leadership skills to the district level by leading the first Facility Master Task Force for AISD and an additional committee. That work led to the first district blueprint for facility management.

While at Anderson Mr. Frazier became a National Board-Certified Teacher, earned a principal’s certificate, and was recognized for his teaching with an HEB award for excellence. Additionally, he mentored young teachers for several years as part of the AISD TIP program.

Mr. Frazier was elected TMEA (Texas Music Educators Association) Region Orchestra Chair serving three terms in that position, as well as two terms as TMEA Region Vice-President over all divisions. He twice acted as organizer for TMEA All State Orchestras and organized and chaired numerous auditions. In addition, he has conducted TMEA Region Orchestras and led numerous sectionals. During this same period Mr. Frazier hosted numerous UIL orchestra competitions at Anderson and at numerous school PAC’s around Austin.

He continues to serve as a clinician, adjudicator, presenter at educator conventions, and substitute conductor for numerous groups and organizations in Texas, including the Austin Civic Orchestra. He works as an advisor and conductor for Classical Music for The World, and currently serves as Music Director at Covenant United Methodist Church in Austin. At present, he is joyfully preparing for a debut vocal recital. Richard has been married to Ellen Frazier for 38 years, and they have two wonderful children, both of whom are married to equally wonderful spouses. The Fraziers have one anxious dog, Izzy, and three granddogs: Triton, Adele, and Ritz.

Mr. Frazier is greatly honored to be planning and conducting this concert. “ACO and its membership directly reflect my belief in the lifelong pursuit of excellence in music. Musical collaboration is in itself a great joy, and it is with that joy that this American Composers Concert was selected.”

Beau Benson, conducting the May 12, 2024 concert

Beau Benson currently serves as Music Director and Conductor for the Oregon East Symphony and Chorale, Artistic Director for the Temple Symphony Orchestra, Music Director for the Waco Symphony Youth Orchestra, and Director of Orchestras for the Midway Independent School District.

Concurrent to his first two years in Waco, Dr. Benson served as Principal Conductor for the Metroplex Opera in Dallas, Texas, following three seasons as Music Director/Conductor of the Mason Orchestral Society in Mason, Michigan. Prior to his time in Michigan, he worked as Music Director for the Texas A&M University Symphony Orchestra and Assistant Conductor for the Flower Mound Symphony. Additional posts he has held include: Associate Conductor for the Flower Mound Community Orchestras, Assistant Conductor for the Frisco Symphony, Assistant Conductor for The Living Opera in Richardson, Tx, and Resident Conductor for the University of Houston’s annual guitar festival.

His recent guest conducting includes engagements with the Fort Worth Symphony, All Cape Festival Orchestra (Cape Cod, MA), Texas Ballet Frontier, Williamson County Symphony, Avant Chamber Ballet, Pendleton Ballet Theatre, the Central Texas Choral Society, and the Region 18 All-region Symphony. This season he will also appear with the Waco Symphony and the Austin Civic Symphony.

Beau Benson received his Doctor of Musical Arts in Orchestral Conducting at Michigan State University. He received his Masters degree in Orchestral Conducting from Southern Methodist University, where he also earned Bachelors degrees in classical guitar performance and music education. He currently lives in Waco, Tx with his wife Amy and their children Loïe, Charles, and Henry.

Associate Conductor

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

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.

​Dr. 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.

​A 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
Richard Edmonson
Tavia Ewen
Rick Kutcher
Mike Lynch
Trish Olives
Meagan O’Neal
Carolyn Richards-Chacon
Stephen Savage
Amanda Tofflemire

Orchestra Staff

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

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