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Raleigh Civic Symphony and Chamber Orchestra

Raleigh, NC      

Innovative programming has always been a focus for the Raleigh Civic Orchestras. A partnership between the non-profit Raleigh Civic Symphony Association (RCSA) and North Carolina State University, the orchestras have an ongoing commitment to programming contemporary music and to presenting concerts in a thematic context, connecting orchestral repertoire to larger ideas in creative ways. The orchestras are comprised of amateur community musicians and university students, drawing on the innovation and synergy of the university and the Triangle region. Audiences and musicians alike are able to explore familiar repertoire in new contexts and to experience new and unfamiliar pieces in ways that make them more accessible. The orchestras share a vision that commissioning contemporary composers should not be solely the work of elite professional ensembles in major metropolitan areas. New works should be created for, and made accessible to, a broad range of ensembles, audiences and geographic locations.

Led by conductor/composer/bassist Peter Askim since 2014, the orchestras have continued their long tradition of adventurous programming, focusing even more intently on the music of our time. Performing a newly commissioned work on every concert for each of the past five seasons, the 2019-20 season will culminate in the premiere of the 20th new work during this period. 

Recently commissioned composers represent a cross-section of music today, cutting across genre, age, experience, gender and ethnicity. In addition to artists trained in the traditional classical tradition, the composers come from a wide variety of backgrounds and are fluent in diverse styles: jazz, bluegrass, Americana, rock and roll and traditional Hawaiian music. Over the past five seasons, the RCSA is especially proud to have commissioned a significant body of work by women and minority composers, contributing works which add to the repertoire of all orchestras.

Recent commissioning projects include a Virtual Reality work on the theme of Women’s Suffrage by Aleksandra Vrebalov, a bluegrass viola concerto by Donald Reid Womack (featuring ETHEL’s Ralph Farris as soloist) and a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s North Carolina “I Have A Dream” speech by Jeff Scott. Other projects include works by Phil Kline, Michael Thomas Fumai, Liliya Ugay, Scott Lee and jazz bassist/composer Rufus Reid. The orchestras are especially proud to have commissioned the first orchestral works by composers Jessica Meyer, Paul Wiancko and Grammy Award-winning slack-key guitarist Jeff Peterson.

The remarkable partnership between RCSA and the Department of Music at NC State University creates a synergistic environment that facilitates artistic freedom, unusual collaborations, and creative programming. Today, performing a minimum of four concerts per year, the Raleigh Civic Symphony and Raleigh Civic Chamber Orchestra are highly respected ensembles attracting semi-professional musicians who enjoy the unique and challenging repertoire and audiences looking to experience new and unusual programming.

Jeff Scott: Sinfonietta of Dreams

The NC State/Raleigh Civic Chamber Orchestra performs the World Premiere of Jeff Scott’s “Sinfonietta of Dreams.” Mr. Scott’s music is based based on the “I Have A Dream Speech” that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave in Rocky Mount, NC on November 27, 1962.

Peter Askim, Conductor
Rebecca Cerese, Filmmaker
Commissioned by the NC State African American Cultural Center
Archival Recording of Dr. King’s Rocky Mount Speech Courtesy of Dr. Jason Miller

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Jeff Peterson: Concerto for Slack Key Guitar and Orchestra – Malama ‘Aina

The Raleigh Civic Chamber Orchestra performs the world premiere of Grammy Award-winning guitarist/composer Jeff Peterson’s “Concerto for Slack Key Guitar and Orchestra – Mālama ‘Āina,” commissioned by the orchestra. Peterson’s first orchestra composition, it is also the first concerto written for the traditional Hawaiian instrument. The work is inspired by the natural beauty of three major Hawaiian volcanoes: Haleakalā, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa.

Raleigh Civic Chamber Orchestra
Peter Askim, Conductor
Jeff Peterson, Slack Key Guitar

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Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring

The Raleigh Civic Chamber Orchestra performs Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring
Peter Askim, Conductor

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