My father played in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
and wanted to bring an affordable, professional concert experience
home to our community.
That’s how the Park Ridge Civic Orchestra was born.
— Victor Muenzer, Music Director

Mission

The mission of the Park Ridge Civic Orchestra is:

  • To bring high-quality symphonic music to the public at an affordable price in an accessible and convenient venue;

  • To engage and nurture young musicians through school partnership programs and mentoring;

  • To inform and educate diverse audiences through presentations at local community centers;

  • To offer a varied program schedule that attracts a diverse audience.

Who We Are

The Park Ridge Civic Orchestra (PRCOrchestra) features 70+ professional musicians, renowned soloists and top-ranked student talents and serves the north and northwest sides of Chicago, its suburbs, and beyond.  Founded in 1994 by veteran Chicago Symphony Orchestra first violinist Edgar Muenzer, his wife Nancy and a cadre of devoted supporters, PRCOrchestra fulfilled Muenzer’s wish to give back after a rewarding lifetime in professional music. Now led by a group of successful local business owners, musicians, civic leaders and others, PRCOrchestra continues to bring enriching, live classical music to the community.  PRCOrchestra is a (501)(c)(3) non-profit organization and gifts are tax-deductible as provided by law.     

What We Do

The Park Ridge Civic Orchestra brings live, professional symphonic music to convenient local venues including the historic Pickwick Theatre in Park Ridge and the modern North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie. From October to May, the Chicago area’s finest instrumentalists and renowned guest soloists, led by Music Director Victor Muenzer, perform towering classics, blockbuster movie scores and audience favorites to please a wide range of musical tastes.

Our family Halloween concert opens each season, followed by a festive program in December to celebrate the holidays.  Late-winter and spring concerts feature classical inspirations with renowned soloists, and special events offer fun and elegant ways to support the orchestra.  

12 Things You May Not Know About the Park Ridge Civic Orchestra

1. PRCOrchestra is one of Park Ridge’s fastest-growing attractions: Our fall-to-spring season of pops and classics at the Pickwick Theatre increased concert attendance 67% in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons alone!

2. We engage many of the same professional musicians, but PRCOrchestra is not the same as Concerts in the Park. (Those excellent concerts are run by the Park Ridge Fine Arts Society and are held in Hodges Park, managed by the Park Ridge Park District.) PRCOrchestra performs indoors in private theaters and concert halls.

3. PRCOrchestra provides a professional concert experience for extremely budget-friendly tickets, especially for seniors and youth under 18. Family-, season-, and other reduced-price and free ticket offers also make PRCOrchestra one of the Chicago area’s top concert values.

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Engaging the next generation is one way PRCOrchestra involves the community in its programming.  We perform symphonic pieces young audiences recognize and love, offer accomplished students the opportunity to play on stage with the orchestra, visit the schools with mentoring workshops, and award scholarships. 

For patrons of all ages and abilities, our concert venues offer ample free parking, easy accessibility, abundant dining options and nearby public transit.  These amenities, and our budget-friendly ticket prices (kept even lower for students and seniors), have earned PRCOrchestra a special place in the cultural life of Park Ridge and the greater Chicago area.

History

Founded in 1994 by Chicago Symphony Orchestra first violinist Edgar Muenzer, his wife Nancy, and a cadre of dedicated supporters, Park Ridge Civic Orchestra has become an important cultural attraction of metro Chicago’s northwest area.  Playing at the Pickwick Theatre in historic Uptown Park Ridge for two decades and recently expanding to also include the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, PRCOrchestra is recognized as one of the finest professional symphonies in Illinois. The orchestra’s contribution to Park Ridge and the surrounding communities has been acknowledged with numerous awards, including the Governor’s Hometown Award; 10 awards from the Illinois Council of Orchestras, including “Orchestra of the Year;” the Illinois Humanities Council Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award (to Edgar and Nancy Muenzer); Pickwick Arts Award; and several Mayoral Proclamations from the City of Park Ridge.

Highlights over the seasons include feature performances by a broad array of famous guest artists: violin virtuoso Rachel Barton Pine; the late CSO principal trumpeter Adolph Herseth; pianist Ralph Votapek; CSO principal cellist John Sharp; baritone William Warfield; CSO concertmasters Samuel Magad and Robert Chen; twin pianists Christina and Michelle Naughton; Blackhawks national anthem singer Jim Cornelison; pianist Leah Dominy; and famed harmonica virtuoso Howard Levy.

The orchestra’s memorable, critically acclaimed performances have included Holst's The Planets, Orff's Carmina Burana, Verdi’s Requiem, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Gershwin's An American in Paris and Rhapsody in Blue, and Mahler’s 5th Symphony..  In 2013, PRCOrchestra launched a new format for opening night, “A Halloween Concert for All Ages", spotlighting the Pickwick’s venerable, Phantom-esque pipe organ. Embraced by the community, the concert became an instant tradition that plays to packed houses and features local students and celebrities alike. That same year, the baton of conductor and music director was passed to Victor Muenzer, son of the founders.  Under Victor Muenzer’s leadership, PRCOrchestra is constantly updating and refreshing its appeal, listening to what its audience wants, and responding with a wide variety of musical performances, all played at the highest professional level.

Awards & Recognitions 

Governor's Hometown Award, Illinois Department of COmmerce & Economic Opportunity

Orchestra of the Year & 10 additional awards, Illinois Council of Orchestras

First Place Award, Illinois DEca Association
to PRCOrchestra Webmaster Runal Patel

Pickwick Arts Award

Mayoral Proclamations, City of Park Ridge

Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award, ILLINOIS HUMANITIES
to PRCOrchestra Co-Founders Edgar & Nancy Muenzer


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