Oregon Symphony


About Oregon Symphony

Oregon Symphony Quick Facts

Concert Schedule:

From September through May each year, the Oregon Symphony presents a full range of concerts – in Portland, Salem and elsewhere. See the latest information on our Portland concert calendar.

Education and Community Engagement activities outside the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall:
  • 36 Kinderkonzert performances in local host schools (Multnomah and Washington Counties)
  • 20 Symphony Storytime visits (5 residencies in Multnomah and Washington county libraries)
  • 60+ classroom visits by 15 volunteer docents in preparation of our annual Young People's Concert for grades 3-8

Education and Community Engagement activities inside the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall:
  • 40 Concert Conversations (local on-air hosts offer talks with conductors and musicians about each program held in the concert hall one hour before every classical series concert)
  • 40 Prelude performances (youth and community ensemble performances in the lobby before classical series concerts)
  • 4 performances of our annual school-day Young People's Concert geared to students in grades 3-8
  • Several times each season, large groups of middle- and high-school students attend closed rehearsals and take part in question-and-answer sessions with conductors or musicians, by special appointment

Important Dates:
  • 1896
    Founded as the Portland Symphony, making today's Oregon Symphony the oldest orchestra in the West and one of only six major orchestras established in America before 1900.
  • Oct. 30, 1896
    First concert performed, at the Marquam Grand Theatre, W.J. Kinross conducting.
  • 1918
    Civic Auditorium premiere.
  • 1955
    Salem series premiere.
  • Aug. 1967
    Name changed to Oregon Symphony to reflect increasing number of concerts played outside Portland and a commitment to serve the statewide and regional community.
  • Nov. 13, 1970
    Norman Leyden's first Pops concert; Leyden was named associate conductor in 1974.
  • Nov. 1977
    James DePreist's first concert; DePreist, then Quebec Symphony principal conductor, appeared as a guest conductor.
  • Sept. 1984
    Moved to renovated Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and elevated from part-time to full-time orchestra.
  • Sept. 1 & 3, 1992
    Made debut appearances at Hollywood Bowl by invitation of Los Angeles Philharmonic.
  • Nov. 1992
    Became only second major U.S. orchestra to do statewide young composers project.
  • June 1995
    Hosted 50th American Symphony Orchestra League Conference to launch its Centennial Celebration.
  • May 1996
    Became one of five American orchestras to participate in a unique audience development program, "The Magic of Music," funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
  • Aug. 1996
    Launched an annual series of free local parks concerts and outreach/educational events funded through the Regional Arts and Culture Council by the City of Portland.
  • Feb. 2001
    First KinderKonzert, a concert series aimed specifically at kindergarteners, first and second graders, is held at Peninsula Elementary School.
  • May 2002
    Carlos Kalmar chosen to succeed retiring music director James DePreist, beginning with the 2003/04 season.
  • 2002/03 Season
    Community Music Partnerships debuts in Klamath Falls, OR.
  • 2002/03 Season
    Symphony Storytimes program debuts, becoming a nationally recognized partnership with public library systems.
  • Oct. 2005
    The James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation pledges the single largest gift in the organization's history, a $6 million challenge grant designed to help expand the orchestra's donor base.
  • May 12, 2011
    The Oregon Symphony is one of seven orchestras from across North America invited to perform at New York's first Spring for Music Festival in Carnegie Hall, it's first East Coast performance ever.
  • Oct. 25, 2011
    Released "Music for a Time of War" CD on the Pentatone Classics label. Recommended by Alex Ross of The New Yorker Magazine as one of the 10 exceptional classical CDs of 2011.
  • Nov. 13, 2012
    Released "This England" CD on the Pentatone Classics label.
  • Dec. 2013
    “Music for a Time of War” CD receives two Grammy Award nominations for Best Orchestral Performance and Best Engineered Album, Classical.
  • Jul. 2014
    Scott Showalter named President.
  • Jan. 2015
    “Spirit of the American Range” CD released on the Pentatone label.
  • Dec. 2015
    “Spirit of the American Range” receives Grammy Award nomination for Best Orchestral Performance.
  • Apr. 2017
    “Haydn Symphonies” CD released on the Pentatone label.

History of Music Directors:
  • 1918-1925
    Carl Denton
  • 1925-1938
    Willem van Hoogstraten
  • 1947-1949
    Werner Janssen
  • 1949-1953
    James Sample
  • 1955-1959
    Theodore Bloomfield
  • 1959-1961
    Piero Bellugi
  • 1962-1972
    Jacques Singer
  • 1973-1980
    Lawrence Leighton Smith
  • 1980-2003
    James DePreist
  • 2003-present