Who is the Hartford Symphony Orchestra?

Welcome to the HSO! We’ve been around for a while. Marking its 76th season in 2019-2020, the HSO is Connecticut’s premier musical organization, the second largest orchestra in New England, and widely recognized as one of America’s leading regional orchestras. The mission of the HSO is to enrich lives and community through great music.

The HSO’s goal is to captivate and inspire audiences of all ages by presenting more than 100 concerts annually, including the Masterworks Series, POPS! Series, Sunday Serenades, HSO: Intermix Series, Discovery Concerts, Symphony in Schools, Musical Dialogues, the Talcott Mountain Music Festival, and more.

Who are the musicians who make up the HSO?

The HSO is made up of over 80 exceptionally gifted musicians, many of whom live right in the Greater Hartford area! In addition to performing in other area orchestras, many of them teach the youth of Greater Hartford at public, private and community schools, and university/conservatory music programs.

Our musicians play a multitude of instruments in the string, woodwind, brass, and percussion sections of the orchestra. If you see one of our musicians in the lobby, they would be happy to answer any questions you may have!

Who is the Music Director?

Carolyn Kuan – and she’s pretty amazing. The HSO named Carolyn as its tenth music director in January 2011. Bringing to Hartford her dream of a community transformed by music, she is the first woman and youngest person to hold this title. Recognized as a conductor of extraordinary versatility, Carolyn has enjoyed successful associations with top tier orchestras, opera companies, ballet companies, and festivals worldwide.

As music director, Carolyn is responsible for choosing the repertoire for our concerts, and conducting many, but not all of our performances.

In addition to her work with the HSO, Carolyn has a very busy schedule.  Upcoming engagements in her 2019/2020 season include her debut with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra; and a return engagement with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Highlights of her 2018/2019 season included debuts with the Singapore Symphony; Santa Barbara Symphony, featuring John Corigliano’s Red Violin; and the Portland Opera, conducting a production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola. She ended season with a world premiere of Iain Bell’s Stonewall with the New York City Opera at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater.

This is my first HSO concert. What should I expect?

You should expect to have a great time and to hear some wonderful music! Often, new audience members are concerned that they will not recognize the music but we think it is likely that you will recognize parts of the music we perform. Music written by the great classical composers is often used in movie soundtracks, television shows, and commercials.

That said, you do not need to know the music before you come. One of the great joys of going to an HSO concert is being introduced to a great piece of music you’ve never heard before or listening to a superb performance of a piece you haven’t heard in years. Some regular concert-goers do find they appreciate the performance more if they listen to a recording of the piece before the concert, so they can better anticipate their favorite parts, or listen for virtuoso playing of the more difficult passages. And many audience members find it enhances their enjoyment of the music if they read the notes in the program about the composer and the pieces that are to be played.

When should I applaud?

We love your applause! Here are some tips: Just before the concert begins, the orchestra members will all be seated on the stage, except for the concertmaster – the violinist who sits in the first chair of the first row of the orchestra. You applaud to greet the concertmaster when he or she comes onstage. You applaud again a few moments later when the conductor comes onstage and acknowledges the orchestra. Any soloists who will be performing will usually come onstage with the conductor; you applaud to greet soloists as well.

After that, just enjoy the music for a while! You do not have to applaud again until the end of each piece of music. Some longer pieces may have several sections, or movements, separated by a brief, silent pause. Typically, the audience does not applaud between movements of a piece. The program will list the movements in each piece, so you will know how many there are. The end of a piece is a great time to show the love!

What should I wear?

We want you to be comfortable while you are enjoying the concert, so wear whatever makes you feel best in a theater setting. Going to the HSO could very well be an opportunity for you to dress up, or to wear something more casual. Whatever you say, goes – there is no dress code at the HSO (except shoes and shirt required, of course!).

When should I arrive/security protocol?

Make a night (or an afternoon) of it! We offer pre-concert talks one hour prior to each Masterworks performance, so come early to get an in-depth and fascinating look at the program you are about to hear. You can also grab a drink at the bar, a snack at the Bushnell Café, and stop by our information table to chat with our staff and find out about upcoming HSO programs. It’s important to leave ample time for travel and parking, so plan to arrive at least 20 to 30 minutes before the concert begins. 

To learn more about The Bushnell’s security protocol click here.

I need an ASL interpreter for a performance. Is this possible?

It is important to us to create a welcoming environment and top notch experience for everyone.  As such, Sign Language Access may be possible.  Please make your request for an interpreter at least 2 weeks prior to any concert. The HSO will make every effort to secure an interpreter once the request is received. To submit a request for an interpreter please email info@hartfordsymphony.org.

2021-2022 Season Health and Safety Protocols.

Read about our 2021-2022 Season Health and Safety Protocols here: https://hartfordsymphony.org/covid19updates/

How do I access the digital program books?

Please watch this video for an in-depth look at how to use our digital program books.

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Box Office

The Bushnell
166 Capitol Ave
Hartford, CT 06106

©2018 Hartford Symphony Orchestra
The Bushnell: 166 Capitol Ave. Hartford, CT 06106