Raleigh Children's Orchestra

The Raleigh Children's Orchestra

Ilse Wells Mann, Conductor
Gail Rasdorf, Coach

The Raleigh Children's Orchestra is a multilevel string orchestra for students in grades one through seven. It is open to all string players who have played their instruments for six months or more. Many members have played their instruments for a number of years and provide leadership for those with less experience. Through weekly rehearsals students gain fluency in playing, ensemble experience, and confidence in performing. Emphasis is on listening skills and understanding rhythm. Parts with string names and finger numbers are available for those students who are still developing their music reading skills. RCO is intended to be a supplement to the instruction the members get in their school orchestras, their Suzuki lessons, and their private lessons.

Rehearsals and Concerts

Rehearsals are held on Thursdays from 6:15 to 7:30 at the Sertoma Arts Center (1400 W. Millbrook Road in Raleigh.) The fall semester begins in September and ends with the concert on the Thursday before Thanksgiving.  The winter/spring semester begins in January and ends with the May concert.  The winter/spring semester has two concerts with two different programs of music.  The summer session includes Thursdays in June and July.  Summer rehearsals are  also from 6:15 to 7:30; rehearsing weekly in the summer gives the children incentive to play their instruments during vacation as well as weekly tunings.

Concerts are scheduled for November, March, May, and July. In addition to their instruments, students need to provide a music stand and a 3 ring binder.


Students may join in August for the first semester, in January for the complete second semester, in March for the second half of the second semester, or in June for the summer session. There are no auditions. 

Registration can be done in person at any Raleigh community center or on line at RecLink.raleighnc.gov.

Class Fees and Registration Dates

For information about fees and registrations dates, contact one of the following:

Some partial scholarships are available; contact Ilse Mann for scholarship information.


The Raleigh Children's Orchestra (originally named the Raleigh Preparatory String Orchestra) has been in existence since 1983. Over the years it has been instrumental in giving hundreds of young string players a valuable foundation in ensemble playing, the incentive to keep playing, and an introduction to the joys of making music together.

Many members go on to play in their middle and high school orchestras, the All State orchestras, the Philharmonic Association's orchestras, Governor's School, and college orchestras.

RCO is managed by the Sertoma Arts Center of the Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department.