August 24, 2020


The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Announces 2021 Virtual Season
New season will feature 16 performances exclusive for subscribers and ticketholders;
Additional virtual community and school programming to begin in Fall 2020

Milwaukee, August 24, 2020 – The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO) today announced that it will perform a virtual season exclusively for subscribers beginning in January 2021. The season will feature 12 classics performances and four pops performances via live streaming and on-demand. The previously announced 2020.21 season, set to begin in October, will not be performed.

“I’m filled with joy and anticipation on behalf of the orchestra and staff that we have made a commitment not to go dark,” said Ken-David Masur, music director of the MSO. “We have thrilling programs, and an opportunity to showcase our incredible musicians in a way never before possible.  Since the pandemic began, the members of our orchestra have creatively pursued opportunities to stay connected to the community by playing on their front porches or driveways for neighbors and passersby; creating engaging on-line content; and gifting the community with their socially distant compilation of Elgar’s ‘Nimrod.’ With this same passion for connection, we will pour our hearts into creating a virtual season that will transcend our physical distance and continue the perpetual wonder that is music.”

From the comfort and safety of their own homes, MSO subscribers will be able to enjoy intimate, engaging live performances, with the added benefit of being able to go back and enjoy them again via on-demand. Beginning in January 2021, this virtual season will include 12 classics and four pops performances. These concerts will feature chamber orchestra and smaller ensemble offerings performed by the musicians of the MSO; repertoire, guest artists, and other details currently are being prepared. Concerts will be carefully selected to reflect the times in which we live and to showcase the incredible work of our world-class musicians and the brilliance of our conductor and music director, Ken-David Masur.

The reason for this change is that on May 18, the Bradley Symphony Center, which was set to be completed in September 2020, sustained significant flood damage in the basement following an intense rainstorm. Over the summer, C.D. Smith Construction and partners have been repairing the damage while still working to complete the facility. Unfortunately, this caused a delay and pushed back our occupancy date until January 2021. In addition, the world still struggles to react to the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has become clear that large-scale gatherings will likely not be a possibility when the building opens in January.

“After careful thought and consideration, both these challenges pointed us towards providing a certain, high quality virtual experience for our supporters,” said Mark Niehaus, president and executive director of the MSO. “The selected works will be a reflection of the time in which we live and will brilliantly be brought to life through speakers and screens thanks to our world-class musicians and our innovative conductor and music director, Ken-David Masur. While we wish we could be together sooner, we look forward to the day when we can officially open the doors of the Bradley Symphony Center to our community. It will be well worth the wait!”

The MSO also announced today that its popular Musical Journeys podcast, hosted and hand curated by Mastro Masur, will resume starting September 18, and the MSO will continue to create digital content for the community to enjoy throughout the season. In addition, the MSO’s extensive Arts in Community Education (ACE) program will go digital for the 2020.21 school year, providing schools from around the region with taped ensemble performances and various educational programming, free of charge.


About the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, led by Music Director Ken-David Masur, is among the finest orchestras in the nation and the largest cultural institution in Wisconsin. 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’s 72 full-time professional musicians perform over 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 48th season, the orchestra’s nationally syndicated radio broadcast series, the longest consecutive-running series of any U.S. orchestra, is heard annually by more than two million listeners. 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, and Family Series.