The Coe College Symphony Orchestra offers a comprehensive ensemble experience for students seeking to develop their orchestral playing skills, expand their studies on their instruments, and learn exciting repertoire. The CCSO exemplifies the collaborative spirit of a liberal arts education by including music majors, non-majors, and faculty members. Orchestra members enjoy the opportunity to perform multiple times per semester in a variety of orchestral and collaborative concerts in venues on campus, off campus, and on tour. The CCSO prides itself on maintaining high artistic standards and actively contributing to the vibrant musical culture at Coe and throughout the community.
Our Interim Director
Steve Shanley coordinates the music education, jazz studies and orchestral programs at Coe College. He is also the music director and conductor of the Cedar Rapids Municipal Band, a professional ensemble that performs 20 concerts each year. Shanley previously spent 11 years teaching music in the Cedar Rapids Community School District, where groups under his direction earned more than 40 Division I ratings at orchestral, band and choral festivals, and over 75 of his students were selected for Iowa All-State music ensembles. During his time in the public schools and at Coe College, Shanley has worked with more than 100 music student teachers and thousands of K-12 students in general music, orchestral, choral and band settings. Under his guidance, the Coe College Jazz Summit has become one of the nation’s largest educational jazz festivals, involving over 2,000 middle and high school students each year.
In addition to teaching, Shanley has an active schedule as a guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator. Equally comfortable in orchestral, band and choral settings, he has directed dozens of honor ensembles, judged over 100 music festivals, presented at multiple music education conferences and given clinics to well over 200 middle and high school musical groups throughout the country. He has served as music director, pit orchestra conductor, pianist and vocal coach for over two dozen professional and amateur music theater productions. He continues to work professionally as a pianist and is also in demand as a composer and arranger. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Northern Iowa, master's degrees from the University of Minnesota and University of Iowa, and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa.
Spring 2022 Orchestra Concert: Sunday, April 23, 2022 | 4:00 PM
Can't join us in person? Live stream our concerts from home!
Spring Orchestra Concert (4/23 @ 4:00 PM) Sinclair Auditorium
The CCSO rehearses twice a week in Sinclair Auditorium: Tuesdays 3:30-5:30 PM; Thursdays 7:00-9:00 PM.
Symphony Orchestra History
Photographic evidence suggests that the orchestral tradition at Coe goes back to at least 1902. With starched collars and high-buttoned shoes the dozen or so participants of that coeducational ensemble held pose for an unidentified photographer in a picture that remains the earliest evidence of an orchestra on campus. The fact that it included both men and women is significant. Whatever developed from that early ensemble was washed away by the tide of World War I in 1913. It was not until 1924, a year after founding the Cedar Rapids Symphony at Coe, that Dr. Joseph Kitchin reorganized the Coe student orchestra. Dr. Kitchin, a well known faculty violinist and conductor, kept the orchestra thriving until his retirement in 1957. Since then several orchestral ensembles have evolved at the college. In 1957, the orchestra became known as the Coe-Promenade Orchestra, mixing community musicians with students and fulfilling the mission of music on the lighter side. The Promenade Orchestra was led by several conductors: Dallas Tjaden (1957-1962 and 1966-1967), Norman Stafford (1963-1965), Thomas Slattery (1967-1976), and Timothaeus Topolewski (1976-1981). From 1981 to 1984 the group was known as the Coe Chamber Orchestra. The Coe College Symphony Orchestra was later revived in 1995 by Dr. Jerry Owen.