The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) is an Australian orchestra based in Melbourne. The oldest professional orchestra in Australia, the MSO is resident at Hamer Hall. The MSO has its own choir, the MSO Chorus, following integration with the Melbourne Chorale in 2008.
The Orchestra relies on funding by the Victorian State Government and the Federal government and support from private corporations and donors. It is supported by Symphony Services International. Sophie Galaise joined the MSO as its first female Managing Director in 2016. Its current Chairman is Michael Ullmer.
The MSO's first concert took place on 11 December 1906 under the baton of Alberto Zelman, founder of the MSO, who later became the first Australian conductor to conduct the London and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras. In 1934, the MSO became one of the Australian Broadcasting Commission's radio orchestras. In 1949, the orchestra took on the new name of the Victorian Symphony Orchestra. In 1965, the orchestra's name reverted to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
The MSO's longest serving chief conductor was Hiroyuki Iwaki (1974-1997), who was named Conductor Laureate of the orchestra in 1989 and held the title until his death in 2006. The orchestra's most recent Chief Conductor, Sir Andrew Davis (conductor), was appointed in June 2012. Sir Andrew Davis gave his inaugural concerts as the MSO's Chief Conductor in 2013, having made his debut with the orchestra in 2009. The MSO also works with Associate Conductor Benjamin Northey and guest conductors like Thomas Adès, John Adams, Tan Dun, Markus Stenz and Simone Young.
Dale Barltrop and Eoin Andersen have shared the position of concertmaster since the start of 2015 since Wilma Smith stepped down at the end of the 2014 season. In 1923, Bertha Jorgensen became the first female leader of a professional orchestra in Australia, and she went on to play with the orchestra for 50 years and became the longest-serving female leader of an orchestra on an international scale.
The MSO was the first Australian orchestra to perform overseas (New Zealand, 1965), and the first to play in Carnegie Hall, New York, in 1970. Its overseas tours - the USA, Canada, Japan, Korea, Europe (2000, 2007, 2014), China (2002), St Petersburg, Russia (2003) and Japan (2005) - have gained it widespread international recognition. In January 2000, under the baton of the then Chief Conductor and Artistic Director Markus Stenz, the MSO represented Australasia at the Festival of the Five Continents in the Canary Islands alongside other orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic and New York Philharmonic. In January 2007 the Orchestra embarked on its second European tour, visiting five cities in Spain (Castellon, Barcelona, Zaragoza, Pamplona, Madrid), Paris, Berlin and Milan.
Sir Andrew Davis became chief conductor in 2013. During his tenure, the MSO made its debut at five of the classical music festivals, including The Proms and the Edinburgh International Festival. In July 2015, the MSO extended Davis' contract through 2019. In April 2018, the MSO announced that Davis is to conclude his MSO chief conductorship at the end of December 2019.
The MSO has collaborated with a number of contemporary artists from pop and rock, to techno and electronic. Notable performances include collaborations with Elton John, resulting in Live in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Kiss (band), Ben Folds, Burt Bacharach, Hans Zimmer, Nick Cave, Sting, Tim Minchin, DJ Jeff Mills and Flight Facilities.
The MSO's recent discs include Strauss' Four Last Songs, Don Juan and Also Sprach Zarathustra  on ABC Classics. On the Chandos label the MSO has recently released Berlioz' Harold en Italie with James Ehnes and Ives' Symphonies No.1 & 2, both led by Sir Andrew Davis.