Above: Edo de Waart, conductor for Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s performance of The Marriage of Figaro. Credit: Jesse Willems
Since its founding in 1959, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO) has continued to be one of the country’s most artistically vibrant and innovative orchestras. This tradition has been enjoyed by millions nationwide since 1971 with the MSO’s radio series – the country’s longest-running national classical radio series. The MSO’s full-time, professional, virtuosic musicians excite listeners with over 140 live concerts across Wisconsin each season.
This year, 2019, marks the MSO’s debut in the WFMT Radio Network Opera Series. Music director laureate Edo de Waart, during his latter years as music director, embarked on a semi-staged trilogy of the Mozart-da Ponte operas with the orchestra. This fall, listeners will hear the culmination of that initiative – their 2016 performance of The Marriage of Figaro, featuring an American soprano wowing critics from LA to London, Joélle Harvey, and in the title role, Douglas Williams, “a visible, vocal and dramatic star” (Wall Street Journal), whose Figaro is “beautifully sung, irrepressibly charming” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).
The MSO is a pioneer among American orchestras. The orchestra has performed world and American premieres of works by John Adams, Roberto Sierra, Phillip Glass, Geoffrey Gordon, Marc Neikrug, and Matthias Pintscher. In 2005, the MSO gained national recognition as the first American orchestra to offer live recordings on iTunes, and continues to offer over forty albums available for download.
A cornerstone of Milwaukee’s art community, and as Wisconsin’s largest cultural organization, the MSO provides enrichment and education activities for audiences of every age, economic status, and background. The MSO’s education and outreach programs are among the most highly regarded of any American symphony and locally reach over 40,000 children and their families through initiatives such as Youth & Teen Concerts, Meet the Music pre-concert talks, Friday Evening Post-Concert Talkbacks, and MSO Stars of Tomorrow. The Orchestra’s signature, nationally-acclaimed Arts in Community Education (ACE) program is the most comprehensive education initiative ever undertaken by an American orchestra and for over a quarter of a century has been the model program for countless U.S. orchestras.