CSA Sinfonia


CSA Sinfonia began in 1993 as a middle school string ensemble, CMS Strings, and was directed by the late Arthur Montzka. Linc Smelser became director in 1996, and in 1999 the string ensemble became a full orchestra. 

String, wind, brass, and percussion players! Here's your chance to play original masterpieces by Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, and Beethoven, as well as music from the 20th century, sometimes including popular music classics by Led Zeppelin and the Beatles. The music is fun and challenging. CSA Sinfonia performs a winter and spring concert in NIU's Boutell Concert Hall.

Ages: 14 - 20
Schedule: 28 Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m. – 9:45 p.m., Room 155, Music Building
Rehearsal Schedule: September 5 - May 1.
No rehearsals: October 31, November 21, December 12 - January 9, March 13, and March 27.
Rehearsals resume in 2019 on January 16.
Come to the first-night picnic on September 5 at 6 p.m. in Annie's Woods, weather permitting, or in the Concert Hall lobby. 
Admission: By audition only. Sign up to audition today!
Concert Dates
On concert nights, the parking sign in the lot south of the Music Building (Lot 3) will be adjusted to allow free parking without a pass.
Director: Linc Smelser
Fee: $310 (annual) 

Register today!


Bring-a-Friend Day - January 23, 2019

The second rehearsal in spring is open to any high school musician who would like to experince the orchestra – for free! Members of the group are encouraged to bring a friend that day, but anyone is welcome to attend this rehearsal. There’s no fee and no obligation.  Participants in Bring-a-Friend Day are encouraged to bring their instrument. 

CSA Sinfonia Concerto Competition

This annual competition is for musicians who are 18 years old or younger and who live within a 75-mile radius of DeKalb. Players are expected to perform one memorized movement of a standard concerto or work with orchestral accompaniment. Competitors need not be in the CSA Sinfonia. Winners may not compete again on the same instrument. Details and application forms are available online and in the office. The winner receives a prize of $200 and performs the concerto with the orchestra at the May concert.

Congratulations to Margaret O'Malley, winner of the 2017 CSA Sinfonia Concerto Competition!

Margaret performed Camille Saint-Saens Violin Concerto No. 3 in B Minor, 1st Mvt. Thank you to everyone who participated in the competition and to our wonderful judges, Mathias Tacke, William Goldenberg and Kelly Langenberg! 

Margaret O'Malley

Margaret Mary O’Malley is a violin student of Gerardo Ribeiro, professor of violin at the Beinen School of Music, Northwestern University and also studies viola with Rose Armbrust-Griffin, professor of viola at the Conservatory of Music, Wheaton College. She has spent the past four summers at the Meadowmount School of Music intensively refining her craft on both violin with Mr. Ribeiro, and viola with Ms. Patricia McCarty.

Margaret began her musical studies at the age of four on piano at the Community School of Arts in Wheaton College, where she also developed a love of violin, studying with Mrs. Anita Arch. Margaret further developed as a musician working with Mrs. Ann Montzka Smelser, (Community School of Arts at NIU) who was instrumental in supporting Margaret’s desire to pursue viola, as well as, violin.

Margaret is currently a principal violist of Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and an active member of the Resurrection Orchestra of St. John Cantius Church in Chicago on both violin and viola. She is also the violist of Asrai Quartet coached by Desirèe Ruhstrat, professor of violin at the Beinen School of Music, Northwestern University. Margaret has won numerous awards for her ensemble work from the Barnett, Discover, Rembrandt and Fischoff International Chamber Competitions. She has been privileged to work with the Fry Street Quartet, Jupiter Quartet, and Kikuei Ikeda of the Tokyo String Quartet. Margaret has received master classes from Rami Solomonow, Shmuel Ashkenasi, Matthias Tacke, Vadim Gluzman, Tong Wei-Dong, and Kurt Sassmannshaus.

Her solo violin performance awards include the Youth Symphony of DuPage Competition, the DuPage Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, the Elmhurst Concerto Competition, the DePaul University Festival, Glen Ellyn Wheaton Music Competition, Society of American Musicians, and the Rockford Youth Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition.

When she is not practicing, performing or studying, Margaret enjoys charcoal drawing and sketching, reading, writing stories and baking. She adores her Italian Greyhound, Rosie, and enjoys the company of her brother, sister and parents in Glen Ellyn, IL.

Sinfonia in Performance