Mission & History


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. 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.

Now in his eighth and final season as music director, Maestro de Waart’s tenure has included sold-out concerts, critical acclaim, and a celebrated performance at Carnegie Hall. Following the 2016.17 season, Maestro de Waart will become the MSO’s conductor laureate.

The MSO’s full-time professional musicians perform more than 135 classics, pops, family, education, and community concerts each season in venues throughout the state. A pioneer among American orchestras, the MSO has performed world and American premieres of works by John Adams, Roberto Sierra, Phillip Glass, Geoffrey Gordon, Marc Neikrug, and Matthias Pintscher, as well as garnered national recognition as the first American orchestra to offer live recordings on iTunes. Now in its 45th season, the orchestra’s nationally syndicated radio broadcast series, the longest consecutive-running series of any U.S. orchestra, 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 27th year, the nationally-recognized ACE program integrates arts education across all subjects and disciplines, 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 7,200 students and 500 teachers and faculty in 24 Southeastern Wisconsin schools will participate in ACE.

Learn more about the MSO's history here.