The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra has the good fortune to be located in a culturally vibrant city with a history of supporting cultural and community activities with enthusiasm and discernment. The WSO has been a vital component of the community since its incorporation on February 13, 1947. The debut concert was held on December 16, 1948 in the Civic Auditorium to an audience of 3,000 with Walter Kaufmann conducting. Subscription prices for the first season of five concerts ranged from $3 to $8 with single tickets starting at $.75.
Walter Kaufmann was the orchestra’s first music director and following him came Victor Feldbrill, George Cleve, Piero Gamba, Kazuhiro Koizumi, Bramwell Tovey, Andrey Boreyko, and since 2005, Alexander Mickelthwate. Under their guidance, the orchestra has both earned a place among the ranks of major Canadian symphony orchestras and has come to be regarded as among Canada’s most innovative. Some of the eminent soloists who have appeared with the WSO include conductors Pierre Monteux, John Barbirolli and Arthur Fiedler; violinists David Oistrakh and Itzhak Perlman; pianists Glenn Gould, Byron Janis, Gary Graffman, Leon Fleisher; singers Marilyn Horne and Maureen Forrester; cellists Zara Nelsova and Jacqueline du Pré and many others.
The WSO has toured throughout Canada, and made a first appearance at Carnegie Hall in 1979. The orchestra has worked very closely with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation since 1954 when the CBC began broadcasting portions of WSO concerts. The orchestra has released numerous recordings on the CBC label and has given thousands of national radio broadcasts since its inception. In addition to its own extensive season of concerts and educational activities, the WSO functions as the official orchestra of Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Manitoba Opera Association.
The WSO has developed an international reputation for its annual New Music Festival. Founded in January 1992 by Music Director Bramwell Tovey and the WSO’s first composer in residence, Glenn Buhr, the New Music Festival has provided an environment rich in exploration and discovery of new works by composers from Canada and around the world. It was in the New Music Festival that programming proposed for the Spring for Music Festival was first programmed and performed for the loyal New Music Festival audiences in Winnipeg. This appearance at Carnegie Hall on May 8, 2014 was a success for the WSO artistically, financially and on a community level. Hundreds of Manitobans travelled to New York to attend the concert and the celebratory after party at The Russian Tea Room that was attended by 720 people.
To provide exceptional musical experiences for Manitobans.
The WSO will be thriving artistically and organizationally, and it will have enhanced its
position as a dynamic, pivotal musical institution in Manitoba. It will be an internationally
recognized model of artistic excellence and community relevance with structural pillars that
include excellent musicians, innovative programs, strong leadership, and a well-diversified
and solid financial foundation.
Strategies for 2014-2020
• Consolidating the WSO’s national and international artistic identity.
• Celebrating the Canadian Symphonic Voice.
• Engaging the community and engaging with the community through education and outreach initiatives.
• Improving the range and quality of facilities in which the WSO performs and works.
• Establishing a WSO brand in the local, national, and international market.
• Artistic Excellence
• Operational Excellence
• Governance Excellence
• Community Engagement
• Innovation and Opportunity