During the 2012/2013 season, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago participated in its first Artistic Challenge: a project inspired by CSO Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant Yo-Yo Ma. The project, which ran through the entire season, centered on Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6. The challenge? To memorize the work in its entirety and perform it without a conductor.

While the project was focused on Beethoven’s sixth symphony, the ultimate goal of the challenge is ownership. The musicians achieved this through having a deep knowledge of the music; cultivating an individual musical point-of-view and artistic confidence; collaborating to create a cohesive ensemble voice; engaging creativity in different ways, and connecting with each other and the audience to create memorable musical experiences.

The challenge culminated with a flurry of activity in May 2013 – performances both advertised and unexpected in storefront locations along Michigan Avenue, connections with students and teachers, and celebratory performances as part of Chicago River Day, organized annually by Chicago Friends of the River and presented in 2013 in partnership with the CSO’s Rivers Festival.

For the 2013/2014 season, the Civic Orchestra is participating in the Artistic Challenge once more, this time focusing on Richard Strauss’ Don Quixote in a concert appearance on April 7 at Orchestra Hall with Ma as soloist.

To learn more about the Civic Orchestra, please visit cso.org/Civic.