During the year of 1930, the Louisville Civic Arts Association was begun. The association adopted an already functioning orchestra originally known as the Young Men’s Hebrew Association Symphony which was founded in 1915. The Y.M.H.A. provided this group a place to practice and paid its director normal salary. The first few programs of the orchestral performances were written: “The Louisville Civic Arts Association, ‘Louisville’s Own Great Series,’ presents (the) Y.M.H.A. Symphony. ‘The Civic Orchestra.’ However, by the spring of 1932, the orchestra was billing itself the Louisville Civic Symphony Orchestra. The first program of the Louisville Civic Arts Association Series, dated October 19, 1931, explains the organization: Dedicated to the principle that the most significant and meaningful cultural advance inheres in the encouragement of a city’s own talent and the attending increase of community appreciation, the Louisville Civic Arts Association presents a series of concerts within the reach of all and one which could not be imported except at prohibitive prices. The Y.M.H.A. Symphony represents the most sustained and enduring orchestral attempt in Louisville’s history and one which few cities in the United States can match. Its personnel, comprised of professional and amateur musicians receives no remunerations but adheres strictly to professional discipline. Immeasurable praise is due to the Y.M.H.A. which nurtured the orchestra until it grew to the point where musical competency and the momentum of community appreciation carried it to the Memorial Auditorium stage and made it Louisville’s own orchestra. Today, the Louisville Civic Orchestra continues to exist because of the interaction we bring to the public. Our members represent some of Louisville's best professionals in music and beyond. We are still an orchestra of transformation, performing together under names such as the JCC Orchestra, the Bellarmine University Civic Orchestra, and once again the Louisville Civic Orchestra. Even under these different names, our mission has remained the same: to bring a high-quality, communal, musical experience to the people of Louisville.
An open and inviting musical group dedicated to cultural enrichment through the practice and performance of symphonic music.
The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, provides operating support to the Louisville Civic Orchestra with state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.