Wichita Symphony Orchestra

225 West Douglas, Suite 207
Wichita, KS 67202


History: Wichita Symphony Orchestra

Founded in 1944, the Wichita Symphony Orchestra is one of the oldest arts organizations in Kansas. During its 61 years of existence, the orchestra's mission has been to provide the state with the highest quality musical presentations for as many different audiences as possible. The largest and most active performing arts organization in the state, the orchestra has been nationally recognized for its artistic level and for the community support it receives.

After the early organizational years, the Wichita Symphony went through a steady period of artistic growth under the baton of James Robertson. For 20 years, Maestro Robertson nurtured and developed an outstanding community-based orchestra, largely establishing the framework for the orchestra of today. Many of the orchestra's current projects were begun during the Robertson era, including the Young People's Concerts, the Youth Orchestras program and other extensive outreach activities.

Upon Maestro Robertson's retirement in 1970, the orchestra moved into its current home, the Century II Concert Hall. Under the artistic leadership of Maestros Francois Huybrechts (1971), Michael Palmer (1977) and Zuohuang Chen (1990), the orchestra continued its development into the highly respected and acclaimed ensemble that it is today. Currently under the baton of Music Director and Conductor Andrew Sewell, the orchestra presents an active schedule of broad-based musical activities.

The orchestra's budget has grown proportionately to reflect the growth of the organization. But unlike many other orchestras, the Wichita Symphony has remained financially solvent. The orchestra has no accumulated deficit and consistently operates in the black.

Approximately 84 musicians regularly play in the orchestra on a part-time basis. Many are on the faculty at Wichita State University, while others retain positions in the public schools and other industries throughout the community.

The mainstay of the orchestra's annual activities is the 8-concert Classical subscription series. Other programs include the virtually sold-out Pops concerts, a "Blue Jeans" concert and two special, free, citywide presentations – The Family Holiday Concert in December and the Koch Industries Twilight Pops Concert in May. The orchestra's educational activities include the Young People's Concerts for grades three through six, the in-school KinderConcerts for kindergarten through second-grade and sponsorship of three Youth Orchestras. The orchestra also shares its cultural resources throughout the state, having performed in over 50 Kansas communities.

The Wichita Symphony is governed by a 63-member board of directors who represent almost every industry and business in the community. Wichita and the surrounding area provide the Symphony with a high degree of support, which has encouraged its growth during the years. Financial and volunteer assistance come from subscribers, contributors, the Women's Association and the business and industrial community. It is because of this support that the Wichita Symphony Orchestra can continue to bring great music to Kansas.

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