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HISTORY OF THE VSO


BUILDING A LEGACY OF LEADERS THROUGH MUSIC, EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS


This year, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra celebrates 41 years of providing symphonic music to the community. Its success is due to the talent and commitment of the early conductors and musicians who provided its foundation.


In 1972, several musicians came together under the leadership of, music director and conductor, Larry Hirtzel. Together they played their first concert at Clark College alongside the college band, under the direction of Dale Beacock. Following the performance, Mr. Hirtzel’s group became a standalone, twenty-member ensemble which came to be known as the Vancouver Chamber Orchestra and later the Vancouver Community Orchestra. Recordings from 1977 in tandem with the Brahms Singers (Vancouver U.S.A Singers) preserve the final performances of the Vancouver Chamber Orchestra. With the combined musicial abilities and innate skills of the musicians and Mr. Hirtzel, the chamber orchestra eventually became the syphony organization known as the Vancouver Community Orchestra.

The Vancouver Community Orchestra was later led by Walt Cleland, who served as conductor from 1978 to 1990. Mr. Cleland's passion for music, his dedication and mission kept symphonic music alive in Southwest Washington. He was the driving force that created and sustained the symphony. In his first year he began meeting with a group of five sting musicians who later joined the musicians of the Vancouver Community Orchestra to form the Vancouver Symphonette – which was later renamed to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

The first performance by the newly assembled Vancouver Symphony Orchestra was held at the Columbia Arts Center. In the years that followed concerts were performed at the First Presbyterian Church and Shumway School (now the Royal Durst Theatre). In 1999, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra began to perform Skyview Concert Hall.

After Mr. Cleland’s retirement in 1990 and a season of several guest conductors, Maestro Salvador Brotons was chosen to lead the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. He has built the organization into a highly regarded, professional orchestra with over 75 musicians and an ever-increasing audience.