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Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra


The orchestra's long-term vision is to ensure the future of classical music in the greater Baton Rouge region and neighboring communities by 1) performing quality orchestral and chamber concerts selected from a diverse range of repertoire and genres; 2) providing music-related educational programs and services for all people; 3) actively supporting the programs of volunteer performing and service organizations who share its mission; and 4) acting in a fiscally responsible manner through the implementation of cost-effective programming, and progressive marketing and fundraising strategies. Learn more

In 1947, a group of musicians from East Baton Rouge Parish formed the Baton Rouge Civic Symphony Orchestra and began playing concerts in the auditorium of the Baton Rouge High School. Throughout three decades, 1950–1980, the Civic Symphony experienced spectacular growth in the size of its audience and in the financial support it received from the business community. During the 1970s, the orchestra changed its name to the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra (BRSO), and added a professional manager and staff to its administrative ranks. At that time, with an expanded season that included seven subscription concerts, the orchestra began playing in surrounding towns and communities. During these years, the Louisiana Youth Orchestra was formed and the Baton Rouge Choral Society officially became the Baton Rouge Symphony Chorus.

Today the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra is eighty-five to ninety musicians strong, and plays more than sixty concerts in twelve different venues annually. Distinguished conductors have led the orchestra over the years in performances of great orchestral and choral masterworks, pops, and chamber works. Conductors have included David Forrester, Emile Cooper, James Yestadt, Paul Fuchs, James Paul, and Timothy Muffitt.

In 1988, under the leadership of James Paul, the BRSO performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall to great critical acclaim. In August 1993, the Baton Rouge Symphony Association changed its name to the Louisiana Symphony Association, laying the groundwork for possible future expansion. Collaborative work with other orchestras in Louisiana began in the post-Katrina era. In the spring of 2006, the BRSO performed Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, winning “Best Classical Music Performance” in Gambit Weekly’s 13th Annual Tribute to Classical Arts Award.

Author: Ron Bermingham

Cite this entry

Chicago Manual of Style

Bermingham, Ron "Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra." In Encyclopedia of Louisiana, edited by David Johnson. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, 2010–. Article published October 3, 2012.

MLA Style

Bermingham, Ron "Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra" Encyclopedia of Louisiana. Ed. David Johnson. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, 3 Oct 2012. Web. 17 Jul 2018.

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Additional Data

Coverage 1947–
Category Music
Regions Southeast Louisiana (Florida Parishes), East Baton Rouge
Time Periods Contemporary Period, Late-20th Century
Index letter B

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