Marking its 70th Season in 2013–2014, The Hartford Symphony Orchestra is Connecticut’s premier musical organization. The Hartford Symphony is the second largest orchestra in New England and is widely recognized as one of America’s leading regional orchestras. We believe passionately in the performance of live symphonic music and its value in the community. To that end, the mission of the HSO is to perform live orchestral music of the highest quality for ever expanding audiences, and to increase through its educational programs the understanding and enjoyment of that music by residents in Connecticut.
The Hartford Symphony Orchestra named Carolyn Kuan as its tenth music director in January 2011; she is the first woman and youngest person to hold this title. She began her tenure with the HSO in the fall of 2011.
The HSO presents more than 100 concerts annually, including the Masterworks Series, POPS! Series, Sunday Serenades, Jazz & Strings, Lincoln Financial Discovery Concerts, Symphony in the Schools, Neighborhood Concerts, Musical Dialogues, Musical Connections, and more. In addition, the HSO celebrates the 16th year of its tremendously popular summer series, the Talcott Mountain Music Festival, this summer in Simsbury.
A major community engagement initiative designed to reach new audiences was launched in 2000 with I Have A Dream, the HSO’s first concert celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 2001, 2004 and 2005, the popular tenor Andrea Bocelli chose the HSO to accompany him on tour, and together they have performed in 15 concerts in cities across North America. In June 2004, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra was awarded the Governor’s Arts Award “in recognition of remarkable artistic achievement and contributions to the arts in the state of Connecticut,” and in 2005, Connecticut Natural Gas presented the HSO with its Diversity Award.
The Hartford Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1934 and formally established as the Symphony Society of Greater Hartford in 1936. Angelo Coniglione, Jacques Gordon, Leon Barzin, Moshe Paranov, and George Heck were the Orchestra’s first music directors. With the appointment of Fritz Mahler in 1953, the HSO began its Young People’s Concerts and made several highly acclaimed recordings for Vanguard. In 1964, Arthur Winograd became music director and the Orchestra grew in artistic stature, performing at Carnegie Hall and other New York locations to highly favorable reviews. Under the artistic leadership of Michael Lankester from 1985–2000, the HSO received national recognition for its programming innovations, including the popular Classical Conversations and Family Matinees, as well as a series of landmark theatrical productions. From 2001–2011, Edward Cumming led the HSO to new levels of artistic excellence and innovative programming.
Each season, the HSO plays to audiences numbering approximately 130,000 and reaches thousands statewide through its broadcast concerts on Connecticut Public Radio. The Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s extensive array of Education and Community Activities serves more than 63,000 individuals in Hartford and surrounding communities annually. The Hartford Symphony Orchestra is supported by nearly 4,500 subscribers and over 2,000 donors. The organization has been greatly strengthened by an extensive level of communication and involvement with its musicians that has become a national model for orchestral governance. Now representing 15% of the Board of Directors and one-third of its Executive Committee, musicians also serve on all major Board committees.