Springfield Symphony Orchestra
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The Springfield Symphony (SSO) got its start when the conductor of the amateur Pioneer Valley Orchestra of Greenfield, MA, Alexander Leslie, decided he was ready to lead a professional organization. After gaining the support of the area cultural and business communities, Leslie began to assemble an orchestra based in Springfield, which had no professional orchestra.
The SSO performed its first concert at the Municipal Auditorium in 1944. Its first performance was given great reviews and even recorded by the Office of War Information for rebroadcast overseas.
The SSO has throughout its history support musical education programs in the Greater Springfield area.
Today, the SSO is the largest symphony in Massachusetts outside of Boston. It consists of 80 musicians from New England and Canada and usually holds as many as 150 performances as either the full orchestra or in ensemble formats. Its concerts are often broadcast over WFCR, the area NPR station. The current music director is Kevin Rhodes.
It is the parent organization of two youth orchestras: the Springfield Youth Sinfonia (formally Young Person's Philharmonia) and the Springfield Youth Orchestra (formally Young Person's Symphony). They offer young musicians a chance to play in a full orchestra, an option not offered in many schools.