Our Rich 102 Year History

Civic Music Association of Milwaukee established. Liborious Semmann, Dean of the College of Music at Marquette University, president.  It is funded by the City of Milwaukee as well as its members. 

CMA secures high school credits for Milwaukee Public School music students.

CMA participates in first local observance of National Music Week.

CMA presents first High School Awards to Milwaukee Public School graduating seniors.

CMA organizes the Young People’s Orchestra under the direction of Rudolph Kopp.

CMA begins managing a series of free concerts featuring local musicians in partnership with the Milwaukee Art Institute. This series later evolved into the Artist & Ensemble Recital Series.


Milton Rusch becomes conductor of Young People's Orchestra.


CMA incorporates as a nonprofit organization.

CMA organizes the Young People’s Symphonic Band under the direction of Joseph Skornicka. 106 musicians turned out for the first auditions! Instruments were purchased and rented to some members. Band members sold 1000 tickets to its first concert at the Milwaukee Auditorium. (Admission is $.25!)

CMA publishes its first Calendar of Musical Events.

CMA expands High School Awards program to include students graduating from all public high schools in Milwaukee County.

CMA’s newly re-named Milwaukee Civic Symphony Orchestra (formerly the Young People’s Orchestra) and the Milwaukee Civic Concert Band (formerly the Young People’s Symphonic Band) begin rehearsing in the Cooley Auditorium at the Milwaukee Vocational School (now MATC).


CMA becomes involved in the early plans for War Memorial which was originally planned a s the "War Memorial/Music Hall."  Meeting minutes say, " Tentative needs are a large concert hall (for opera and symphony), a smaller hall seating for 1500, a concert hall for 800, and smaller recital halls with rehearsal facilities."


Pledges $1,500 to the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center. 


Florentine Opera Company celebrates its 16th anniversary and presents CMA with a bronze plaque as an expression of appreciation of its continuous and consistent efforts on behalf of music in the community.

CMA underwrites publicity campaign for the proposed campaign a Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, pending the appointment of a Milwaukee County Symphonic Commission.


Plans for the War Memorial moving ahead without the music hall component. 


CMA sends their good wishes to the Milwaukee Pops Orchestra in their inaugural year. 


Paul Anderson becomes conductor of the Milwaukee Civic Concert  Band.


CMA presents its first Distinguished Citizen Award.


CMA community chorus formed with Wallace Cheatham as conductor.


Wayne Becker becomes conductor of the Milwaukee Civic Concert  Band.


CMA is adopted by the Milwaukee County Park Commission. 

CMA publishes the first issue of its newsletter Milwaukee Music Notes (now known as CMA Music Notes) and establishes an administrative office at the Charles Allis Art Museum.

CMA establishes the Donald and Idabelle Mohr Scholarship for MPS graduating seniors continuing their musical education by presenting a day-long 50th year anniversary Artist & Ensemble Recital Series retrospective featuring 40 performers. This was later broadcast state-wide over Wisconsin Public Radio (WHAD 90.7 FM).

CMA begins a series of Sunday Serenades at the Mitchell Park Domes.

CMA presents the first High School Showcase Recital. CMA presents the first Holiday Flute-In at the Mitchell Park Domes.  CMA establishes the Norbert J. Beihoff Scholarships that award one year of private lessons to middle school instrumentalists who demonstrate financial need and have not yet had the opportunity for private music instruction. 

WHAD broadcasts previously recorded Artist & Ensemble Recital Series concerts during the summer. 

UWM broadcasts previously recorded Artist & Ensemble Recital Series concerts on itsMusic from Milwaukee program.

CMA initiates Contemporary Composers Concerts. 

CMA establishes Leonard D. Sorkin Memorial Violin Competition. 

CMA begins an annual Celebration of Musical Achievement awards ceremony recognizing excellence in the teaching of music.

CMA celebrates its 75th Anniversary and moves its administrative office to the Marian Center for Nonprofits (formerly St. Mary’s Academy). CMA expands High School Awards program to include students graduating from all public and private high schools in the greater Milwaukee area.

CMA’s Milwaukee Civic Symphony Orchestra incorporates as a separate nonprofit organization and is renamed the Festival City Symphony Orchestra.

CMA begins collaborating with the local UNICO chapter, an Italian American service organization, to offer scholarships to music students of Italian heritage.

CMA presents its first annual Harold A. Levin Scholarship. CMA’s Milwaukee Civic Concert Band incorporates as a separate nonprofit organization.

CMA establishes the Elizabeth W. Boyce Young Artists Scholarships for high school vocalists and instrumentalists. CMA moves the Annual Holiday Flute-In from the Mitchell Park Domes to the Milwaukee Public Museum.

CMA begins partnering with Supporters of Opera Singers to provide professional vocal coaching sessions for young, local opera singers through its Vocal Coaching Program.

CMA created the Music Competition Weekend by combining its elementary, middle, and high school offerings into a weekend of auditions, workshops, and master classes, with cash prizes and a recital. CMA’s Harold A. Levin Scholarships became part of the Collegiate Music Competition and the Norbert J. Beihoff Scholarships became part of the Private Lesson Program for Instrumentalists.

CMA moves the Annual Holiday Flute-In from the Milwaukee Public Museum to the Bayshore Towne Center.

CMA establishes the Audience Voice Award to give the audience a voice by selecting a musician of their choosing to receive a special cash prize during CMA’s Collegiate Music Competition.

CMA celebrates its 90th Anniversary by kicking off the Awards Banquet as a new annual event. CMA expanded Distinguished Citizen Award to include recognition for a Professional in the Arts and a Patron of the Arts. CMA presented A&E recitals at multiple venues, east and west, to reach a larger audience. 

CMA celebrates its 30th Annual Holiday Flute-in.

CMA establishes the Private Lesson Program for Vocalists that awards one year of private lessons to 8th and 9th grade vocalists who demonstrate financial need and have not yet had the opportunity for private music instruction. 


Private Lesson Program expands to a three year program.  60 students currently receiving lessons in the 2018-19 season.

CMA celebrates its 100th season with the Centennial Celebration Gala on November 4 with guest artist Doc Severinsen.

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