The MSO reaches out to diverse audiences through concert performances and nationally recognized education and outreach programs. All programs are guided by the MSO Family Shared Vision which states that the MSO exists for three purposes: to comfort, educate, entertain and exhilarate the human soul through events of cultural significance, relevance and artistic challenge; to embrace, preserve and foster our musical heritage; and to enhance the vibrancy of our community.
The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, under the dynamic leadership of Music Director Edo de Waart, is among the finest orchestras in the nation. Now in his seventh season with the MSO, Maestro de Waart has led sold-out concerts, elicited critical acclaim, and conducted a celebrated performance at Carnegie Hall on May 11, 2012. The MSO’s full-time professional musicians perform over 135 classics, pops, family, education, and community concerts each season in venues throughout the state. Since its inception in 1959, the MSO has found innovative ways to give music a home in the region, develop music appreciation and talent among area youth, and raise the national reputation of Milwaukee.
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. This initiative follows a 44-year nationally syndicated radio broadcast series, the longest consecutive-running series of any United States orchestra, which is heard annually by 3.8 million listeners on 183 subscriber stations in 38 of the top 100 markets.
The MSO's standard of excellence extends beyond the concert hall and into the community, reaching more than 40,000 children and their families through its Arts in Community Education (ACE) program, Youth and Teen concerts, Meet the Music pre-concert talks, and Friday Evening Post-Concert Talkbacks. Celebrating its 26th year, the nationally-recognized ACE program integrates arts education into state-required curricula, providing opportunities for students when budget cuts may eliminate arts programming. The program provides lesson plans and supporting materials, classroom visits from MSO musician ensembles and artists from local organizations, and an MSO concert tailored to each grade level. This season, more than 7,600 students and 500 teachers and faculty in 25 Southeastern Wisconsin schools will participate in ACE.