|Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO)|
|Music director||Ken-David Masur (designate)|
The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra is an American symphony orchestra based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The orchestra performs primarily in the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, in Uihlein Hall. The orchestra also serves as the orchestra for Florentine Opera productions. In December, 2017, the symphony purchased the former Warner Grand Theatre, with the intent to relocate there in 2020.
The precursor ensemble to the orchestra was the Milwaukee Pops Orchestra, a part-time ensemble which had been founded 10 years earlier. In 1959, the orchestra formally changed its name to the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, with Harry John Brown as its first music director. During his nine-year tenure, Brown led the orchestra's transition from a semi-professional pops group to a fully professional, full-time symphony orchestra.
During the tenure of Kenneth Schermerhorn, the orchestra's second music director, from 1968 to 1980, the orchestra had begun its 'State Tour' programme of concerts around Wisconsin, to such cities as Fish Creek, Fond du Lac, Marinette, Ripon, Rhinelander, Three Lakes, West Bend, and Whitewater, Wisconsin, as well as Naperville, Illinois. The orchestra also initiated its concerts for students, as well as giving its first performance at Carnegie Hall. The Milwaukee Symphony Chorus was also established during this time. Lukas Foss served as the orchestra's third music director, from 1981 to 1986, which saw a notable increase in performances of contemporary music and American compositions, along with the orchestra's first European tour in 1986.
Zdenek Macal was the orchestra's fourth music director, from 1986 to 1995. The orchestra began to record for Koss Classics during this period, and established its Arts in Community Education programme in 1990. From 1995 to 1997, Stanis?aw Skrowaczewski served as the orchestra's artistic advisor, prior to the advent of Andreas Delfs as the orchestra's fifth music director. Delfs was music director from 1997 to 2009. During his tenure, in 1999, the orchestra performed in Cuba, the first American symphony orchestra to do so since the U.S. embargo against Cuba was implemented in 1962. Delfs became the orchestra's conductor laureate after the conclusion of his tenure in 2009.
Edo de Waart was the orchestra's most recent music director, from 2009 to 2017. His appointment was unusual in that de Waart had not conducted the orchestra prior to his appointment. Upon the conclusion of his tenure, the orchestra granted de Waart the title of conductor laureate. The orchestra's current assistant conductor is Yaniv Dinur. Past principal pops conductors have included Doc Severinsen, who holds the title of Principal Pops Conductor Emeritus, and Marvin Hamlisch.
In May 2018, Ken-David Masur first guest-conducted the orchestra. The orchestra immediately re-engaged him for a subsequent guest-conducting appearance in September 2018. On the basis of these concerts, in November 2018, the orchestra announced the appointment of Masur as its next music director, effective with the 2019-2020 season, with an initial contract of 4 seasons. Masur took the title of music director-designate with immediate effect.
The orchestra has presented more than 100 world and American premieres of works by composers such as Philip Glass, Daron Hagen, Daniel Schnyder, Roberto Sierra, Gunther Schuller, William Schuman, Lukas Foss, Roy Harris, Gian Carlo Menotti, Richard Rodgers, Ottorino Respighi, Jean Sibelius, Erich Korngold and others. Over 22 compositions have been by MSO musicians.
The MSO has also released 14 recordings on the Koss Classics and Telarc labels. These include such projects as the complete symphonies of Antonín Dvo?ák; an all-Kodaly disc; an acclaimed recording of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9; Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique; Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky; and Smetana's Ma Vlast. On September 16, 2005, the MSO became the first American orchestra to sell recordings of recent concerts for download on iTunes and through the orchestra's web site.
The Cuba Concerts CD features a live recording made during the MSO's 1999 Cuba Millennium Tour. 1999 also saw the release of an a cappella CD featuring the Milwaukee Symphony Chorus. In 2002, the MSO released a CD featuring Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet and Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker. In 2004, the MSO released the first modern recording in English of Humperdinck's Hansel und Gretel, on the Avie label.
The orchestra is also featured on radio broadcasts via the WFMT Radio Network.