Lancaster Symphony Orchestra Mission Statement
The core purpose of the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra is to enrich, entertain and educate the South Central Pennsylvania Community through unique live musical performances and to provide community engagement opportunities for students of all ages.
The Lancaster Symphony Orchestra made its official debut on May 1, 1947, at McCaskey High School Auditorium (Lancaster, PA) under the baton of Conductor Louis Vyner. Ticket prices ranged from $1.20 to $2.40 per person. The concert earned several standing ovations and the entire affair earned a profit of $236.
Prior efforts to create a hometown orchestra were derailed by two world wars and one national economic depression. After the end of World War II, however, the community felt ready to support a local symphony. Efforts to establish the Lancaster Symphony were spearheaded by several community leaders. Chief among them was Armstrong World Industries executive Kenneth O. Bates (who became the Symphony’s second Board president after Frederic Klein).
During his board service, Bates and Cameron Hawley (who later claimed fame as a noted author) developed the idea of the Composer’s Award. The idea captured national attention and remains a Lancaster Symphony feature, bringing outstanding contemporary American composers to Lancaster annually. Past award recipients have included Leroy Anderson, Morton Gould and Russell Peck.
Now in its 69th season, the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra has played for over three decades under the direction of Maestro Stephen Gunzenhauser. The Symphony has evolved from a community orchestra playing a few concerts per year into a $1.7 million organization of professional musicians presenting six Classic Series concerts, two POPS Series, the Sounds of the Season holiday concert series and two New Year's Eve Celebration concerts. The concerts feature international guest artists and conductors and frequent U.S. and world premières, such as 2012’s national première of Disney’s Fantasia Live In Concert. Opening Night Friday audiences are also treated to a post-concert reception where they can interact with the Symphony’s musicians and guest artists.
The Symphony's Sound Discovery Community Engagement Programs feature the nationally-recognized Open Rehearsals. Developed exclusively for the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra, this interactive experience introduces classical music to students and adults throughout Lancaster County. Sound Discovery’s programs also include the Music Discovery Experience, a program serving the School District of Lancaster; Instrumental Competition/Scholarship; the Gift of Music; and master classes.
The Lancaster Symphony Orchestra performs at the historic Fulton Opera House, the American Music Theatre, the Winter Center at Millersville University, and the Barshinger Center for Musical Arts at Franklin & Marshall College. The Symphony’s office is located at 226 North Arch Street in downtown Lancaster.