A symphony orchestra is often viewed as a mystery. Something that is out of reach for the average person—not only geographically, but culturally and financially. It is something you only find in big cities and that only certain types of people attend.
While those stereotypes may apply to other symphonies, the Richmond Symphony Orchestra is different. In fact it is very different! It is convenient to the small communities in east central Indiana and west central Ohio. Parking is free. The concerts are affordable (less than the cost of dinner and a movie) and all are welcome!
With a population of just under 37,000—Richmond, Indiana is one of the smallest communities (possibly even the smallest) to nurture and support a professional symphony orchestra for over 50 consecutive years. Amazing? Yes, but Richmond has always had a rich musical history with symphony performances held as early as the late 1800s.
In 1899 Will Earhart formed the nation’s very first complete high school orchestra at Richmond High School. The Richmond Civic Orchestra, founded in 1946, was a forerunner of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra.
In 1956 Manfred Blum combined the Richmond Civic Orchestra and the Earlham College student orchestra to create one large group: the Richmond Symphony Orchestra (RSO). Since that time, only two other conductors have led the RSO; Thomas Elefant 1985-1996; and current music director/conductor, Guy Victor Bordo, who took over in 1997.
The RSO has remained true to its educational roots in Earlham College and Richmond High School. From the beginning, annual competitions were held for young musicians with the winners featured as soloists at a concert. The Young Artist Competition is still the RSO’s longest running program.
The RSO provides some of the best educational and artistic opportunities in our community including the Orchestra within an Orchestra competition, email “cliff notes” and pre-concert conversations on the classical concerts. A Shadowing program offers aspiring musicians and the curious a chance to shadow musicians, learn about their life and sit by their side as they rehearse.
Each year amazing guest artists are showcased in our six concert series (4 classical – 2 pops.) Special events include a concert in the round, free concerts for 3rd and 7th graders and a season kick-off celebration. Rehearsals for all Saturday concerts are open and especially great for first time attendees who enjoy the more casual atmosphere and the $5 ticket price!
Come enjoy the Symphony—a rare, big city perk in an Indiana city called Richmond.