Richmond Symphony Orchestra

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The Richmond Symphony is based in Richmond, Virginia. One of the nation's leading regional orchestras, it employs 72-85 musicians who give over 100 performances each season to over 125,000 audience members. Its music director (since 2010) is Steven Smith; its associate conductor (since 2007) is Dr. Erin Freeman. Previous music directors were Edgar Schenkman (1957-71), Jacques Houtmann (1971-86), George Manahan (1987-98), and Mark Russel Smith (1999-2009). Previous associate conductors include William Henry Curry (the first), Peter Bay, Marin Alsop, Thomas Wilkins, Eckart Preu, and Sarah Hatsuko Hicks (the most recent).

The Symphony has performed alongside internationally renowned musicians such as Aaron Copland, William Grant Still, Isaac Stern, Leonard Rose, Pierre Fournier, Aldo Ciccolini, Yefim Bronfman, Claudio Arrau, Yo-Yo Ma, Julian Lloyd Webber, Jessye Norman, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Joshua Bell, Elmar Olivera, Itzhak Perlman, Joseph Silverstein, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Jubilant Sykes, André Watts, Ani Kavafian, Joanne Kong, the Shanghai String Quartet, the Emerson String Quartet, Ray Charles, Tony Bennett, Cleo Laine, the Dave Matthews Band, Aretha Franklin, Bruce Hornsby, and Marvin Hamlisch.

The Richmond Symphony was founded in 1957. The Symphony performed only three concerts in its inaugural season. The Richmond Symphony Chorus, founded in 1971, gave its first performance under the direction of Robert Shaw; its directors have been Dr. James Erb (1971-2007) and Dr. Erin R. Freeman (since 2007). The Richmond Symphony Young Performers Program includes four ensembles of elementary to secondary school students.

As a nonprofit corporation, the Richmond Symphony is partially supported by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The orchestra performs five series of Concerts: The Masterworks Series of traditional symphonic repertoire; The Metro Collection Series (chamber orchestra); The Symphony Pops Series - lighter popular and classical music; the Richmond Symphony LolliPops Series - less formal, family-oriented events; and Rush-Hour Concerts - one-hour casual concerts sampling music from Metro Collection programs. The Richmond Symphony also gives special concerts and tours throughout central, western and southern Virginia.


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