With inspiring symphonic performances and educational programs, The Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra draws musicians from all over.
Discover all the talented individuals who make the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra a beautiful experience.
The Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra can be traced back to the early 1930s when a group of dedicated and resourceful music lovers decided, against all odds, to form a symphony in the city of Harrisburg. The country was in the throes of the Great Depression, but the group forged ahead, giving their first concert at William Penn High School in Harrisburg on March 19, 1931. The conductor on that occasion was George King Raudenbush, who was to become the orchestra’s first music director. By the end of 1931 the orchestra had moved its concerts to the newly-opened Forum Auditorium in the Education Building, part of the Capitol Complex, where it still performs to this day. The 1931-32 season included four concerts. The cost of a subscription: $2.00!
Slowly but surely, the institution took root, eventually taking its rightful place among the Capitol Region’s cornerstone cultural institutions. Beginning with Maestro Raudenbush, who stayed until 1950, the Harrisburg Symphony has had six music directors. Succeeding Raudenbush in the 1950-51 season was Edwin McArthur, whose tenure lasted until 1974. He was followed by David Epstein (1974-1978), Larry Newland (1978-1994), Richard Westerfield (1995-1999), and Stuart Malina (2000-present). If the founders were alive today, they would see their humble creation transformed into a fully professional orchestra and a powerful and dynamic force that touches the lives of tens of thousands of people each year.
A typical season includes seven pairs of Masterworks concerts, five pairs of concerts on the Capital Blue Cross Pops Series, two Young Persons’ Concerts for school age children, and free outdoor concerts in several communities over the July 4th weekend. In addition, the Symphony season includes a number of educational activities, including in-school performances and master classes featuring Harrisburg Symphony musicians.
Operating under the umbrella of the Harrisburg Symphony is the Harrisburg Symphony Youth Orchestra, founded in 1953 and one of the oldest youth symphonies in the country. There are three ensembles in the program: the Harrisburg Symphony Youth Orchestra for high school age musicians, the Junior Youth String Orchestra for middle school age musicians, and the Elementary String Orchestra for elementary musicians. All ensembles perform twice each year at the Forum and at Strawberry Square in downtown Harrisburg. Gregory Woodbridge, Associate Conductor of the Harrisburg Symphony, is Music Director of the Youth Symphony. Krista Kriel is conductor of the Junior Youth Strings, and Nelson Rodriguez-Parada is conductor of the Elementary String Orchestra.
The Harrisburg Symphony is governed by a 27-member Board of Directors. The current Board Chair is Patricia Ferris. The Symphony is enthusiastically supported in its fundraising efforts by the Harrisburg Symphony Society under the direction of its president, Carole DeSoto.