Rockford Symphony Orchestra

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Rockford Symphony Orchestra (RSO)
Coronado Theater
Former name Rockford Symphony
Founded 1934
Location Rockford, Illinois
Concert hall Coronado Performing Arts Center
Principal conductor Steve Larsen

The Rockford Symphony Orchestra is a symphony orchestra in Rockford, Illinois, USA. Now in its 80th season, the orchestra is the third largest orchestra in the State of Illinois.


The Rockford Symphony Orchestra, incorporated in 1943, began performing concerts in 1934 under the direction of Sheehan Quirke. He continued to lead the orchestra as Music Director and Manager until 1970. Following Zack's tenure, Crawford Gates was appointed Music Director of the Orchestra. During his tenure, the orchestra began to bring in guest artists.

When Gates retired, Charles Bornstein was named the Music Director of the orchestra (1986). Under his direction, the orchestra continued to grow, presenting more concerts and a wider variety of musical literature. Bornstein's tenure was not without controversy. While his artistic vision for the orchestra was certainly high, many felt that he lacked "people skills" in dealing with orchestral personnel. There was, during this time, a large attrition rate of long term orchestra members.

Musical director[edit]

Steve Larsen was named the fourth music director of the orchestra in 1991. Under his direction, and with the board's vision, the RSO has expanded the orchestra’s repertoire and attracted musicians of the highest caliber. In addition to an expanded "classics series", the RSO has added/increased the pop series, youth education programs, a summer music series, and fully staged operas.


(Presented by the Illinois Council of Orchestras)

  • 2016, Illinois Conductor of the Year, Steve Larsen
  • 2009, General Manager of the Year, Brian Ritter
  • 2008, Programming of the Year
  • 2007, Illinois Orchestra of the Year
  • 2006, Illinois Conductor of the Year, Steve Larsen
  • 1999, Illinois Conductor of the Year, Steve Larsen
  • 1992, Illinois Orchestra of the Year

Performance venue[edit]

The RSO performs at the recently renovated Coronado Performing Arts Center, in downtown Rockford, Illinois. On June 1st and 2nd of 2012, two concerts featuring pop/rock icon Todd Rundgren accompanied by the Rockford Symphony Orchestra will be held at the Coronado. In September 2011, Todd performed concerts in the Netherlands with the Metropole Orchestra. The concerts in Rockford will be his first ever with an orchestra in the USA.

Rockford Symphony Youth Orchestra (RSYO)[edit]

The orchestra, with roughly sixty members, rehearses weekly and performs throughout the year. RSYO is currently under the direction of Linc Smelser.

See also[edit]


"Rockford Symphony Orchestra". Fetelli, Inc. 2008. Retrieved 07/04/2008.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)