Founded in 1934, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra is Connecticut’s premier musical organization. We are the second largest orchestra in New England and are widely recognized as one of America’s leading regional orchestras. We believe passionately in the performance of live symphonic music and its value in the community.
Each season, the HSO plays to audiences numbering approximately 110,000 and presents more than 100 concerts, including the Masterworks, POPS!, Sunday Serenades, Lincoln Financial Discovery Concerts, Symphony in the Schools, Musical Dialogues, and more. In addition, we will celebrate the 19th year of our tremendously popular summer series, the Talcott Mountain Music Festival, this summer in Simsbury.
Our orchestra is made up of string, woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments. Our more than 80 musicians are employed by the HSO and live locally; many of them inspire and teach the youth of Greater Hartford at public, private and community schools, and music programs.
The Hartford Symphony Orchestra named Carolyn Kuan 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. Maestra Kuan’s vision has inspired people of all ages and demonstrated a commitment to artistic excellence. In addition to conducting many of the Hartford Symphony’s concerts, Ms. Kuan is influential in choosing repertoire for every program.
Carolyn Kuan is increasingly recognized as one of the most exciting, innovative and outstanding conductors of her generation. Her recent North American engagements have included concerts with the Baltimore, San Francisco, Detroit, Seattle, Milwaukee, North Carolina, and Toledo symphonies; the Florida and Louisville orchestras; the New York City Ballet; and the New York City Opera. Recent international engagements have included concerts with the Bournemouth Symphony, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Hong Kong Philharmonic, and Orquesta Sinfónica de Yucatán.
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 many symphonies, concertos, and choral works that we play. 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 a Hartford Symphony 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.
There are two reasons to applaud at a Hartford Symphony concert: as a greeting, and to show appreciation. 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 comes onstage. You applaud again a few moments later when the Conductor comes onstage. Any soloists who will be performing will usually come onstage with the Conductor; you applaud to greet soloists as well. You do not applaud again until the end of each piece of music, to show your appreciation to the performers. Some longer pieces may have several sections, or movements, separated by a brief, silent pause. 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.
Most people consider a concert by the Hartford Symphony to be a special event, and tend to dress for the occasion – in suits and ties, or “nice” dresses or pantsuits. Many people come to the concerts from work, and are dressed in professional business attire. Formal dress – evening gowns and tuxedos – are generally worn only to our Gala or other events that are clearly indicated as “black tie.”
We suggest you arrive 20 to 30 minutes before the concert is scheduled to begin. That will give you ample time to find your seat, relax, read the program notes, and watch the musicians as they take the stage. Hartford Symphony concerts begin promptly at the announced starting time. Ticketholders who come late will not be seated in the hall until after the conclusion of the first work on the program or if there’s a significant break between movements of a concerto or symphony. Concertgoers who must leave the hall before or during the playing of a piece will not be reseated until after that piece is concluded.