Founded in 1975 as a community orchestra, the CSO has grown into a full arts organization with an 85-member orchestra, a professional administrative and artistic staff, and a talented and dedicated governing Board of Directors.

The CSO has earned a regional reputation for excellence in artistry and community service. Unique nationally in its hybrid of paid and non-paid musicians, the CSO focuses on both high artistic standards and serving families, as the majority of CSO musicians are also involved in the demanding profession of music education. Recharging their passion for music education, participation in the orchestra refreshes, enriches and nourishes the artistic expression and capacities of these individuals.

The Carmel Symphony Orchestra is comprised of professional and formally trained musicians who share a joy of making music, with the vast majority studying privately through college and, in many cases, beyond. More than half of the musicians have been with the orchestra for 15 years or longer, and since 2005, all new members of the CSO are accepted into the orchestra through an audition process. A prospective member performs required excerpts from orchestral literature for the Artistic Director and a committee of principal musicians.