About Us

Vision Statement

Leading with artistic excellence, the Richmond Symphony will inspire and unite our community through the power of live music.

Mission Statement

The Richmond Symphony performs, teaches and champions music, to enrich and entertain communities throughout Virginia.

History

The Richmond Symphony was founded in 1957 by a small, dedicated group of music-lovers, giving its debut on 28th October, 1957 under Edgar Schenkman, Music Director from 1957-1971. Subsequent Music Directors have been Jacques Houtmann (1971-1987), George Manahan (1987-1999), Mark Russell Smith (1999-2009) and Steven Smith (2010-present). The Symphony performed only three concerts in its inaugural season; today, members of the Richmond Symphony make more than 200 public appearances each 38-week concert season. The organization includes an orchestra of over 70 professional musicians, the 150-voice (volunteer) Richmond Symphony Chorus, the 200-strong volunteer members of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra League, and over 250 students in the four Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestras. A not-for-profit corporation, the Richmond Symphony is partially supported by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, and is a ‘Group 3’ member of the American Symphony Orchestra League. The Symphony’s operations are overseen by a 42-member Board and managed by a staff of 20 full- and part-time members. It has an operating budget in FY14 of $5M, and an endowment of over $12M, governed as a separate 501(C)3 by its own Foundation board of trustees.

Each season, the Symphony reaches as many as 200,000 Virginians across the Commonwealth, through its concerts, education programs, statewide touring, and weekly radio broadcasts on 88.9 WCVE-FM. The Symphony also produces special gala concerts, gives seasonal performances such as Messiah, and performs in productions each year with the Richmond Ballet and Virginia Opera. Its roster of guest artists includes internationally-respected soloists as well as locally-prominent musicians, and its programs have garnered both popular and critical acclaim - including seven awards for adventurous programming from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). The organization has also come to be viewed as a leader in the national orchestral field by its selection as one of only 12 symphonies in the Andrew W. Mellon Orchestra Program, a 10-year initiative from 1999-2009 that was designed to support the enhancement of orchestras’ internal organizational culture and an increased focus on the relationship of orchestras to their communities.

The Richmond Symphony is dedicated to excellence in presenting all types of orchestral repertoire. It incorporates classical, gospel, jazz, and contemporary and popular music into its programming, making great music accessible to everyone. Sold on subscription are the following series:

  • Altria Masterworks – 7 or 8 programs per season, performed on Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons, at Richmond CenterStage.
  • Genworth Pops – 4 programs per season, of lighter, popular music, performed on Saturday evenings at Richmond CenterStage.
  • Union First Market Bank LolliPops – 3 programs per season, performed on Saturday mornings at Richmond CenterStage.
  • Metro Collection – 4 programs per season, often featuring members of the orchestra as soloists, on Sunday afternoons at Randolph-Macon College.

The Symphony’s educational programs seek to foster and develop diverse, informed audiences who value live symphonic performances; help nurture and develop young musicians; and advocate for music education and orchestral music. More than 40,000 area school-aged children are served each year through in-school ensemble performances and masterclasses, academically-themed Discovery concerts, and the four Youth Orchestra ensembles.

We at the Symphony are proud of our more than 50 years of service to the community, and of the critical and popular recognition that many of our past programs have garnered - including 7 awards for adventurous programming from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).

The Richmond Symphony is dedicated to achieving excellence in both contemporary and traditional symphonic repertoire. Among our ticketed series are:

Altria Masterworks - Crafted with you in mind: the classical music explorer. Saturday nights and Sunday matinees at the Carpenter Theatre.

Genworth Financial Symphony Pops - The very best in symphonic entertainment – popular standards, a holiday tradition, and more – our POPS series at the Carpenter Theatre is perfect for the adventurous music lover.

Metro Collection - Intimate, engaging chamber orchestra concerts at Randolph-Macon College. Get up close and personal with the musicians of the Richmond Symphony.

LolliPops - Concerts for kids at the Carpenter Theatre are certain to bring out the kid in you. A fun introduction to the orchestra – perfect for families.