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The mission of the Allentown Symphony Association is to provide a first-class symphony orchestra and Hall, quality performing arts, and cultural education in partnership with the community.


 

Allentown Symphony Orchestra


 

Diane Wittry, Conductor

Now in its 64th season, the Allentown Symphony Orchestra is the leading symphonic ensemble in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. Under the musical leadership of Music Director/Conductor Diane Wittry, the Allentown Symphony performs five Subscription Concerts each year in Allentown’s historic, 1150-seat Symphony Hall. In 2014-2015, these concerts will again be offered on both Saturdays evenings and Sunday afternoons.

In addition, the orchestra also performs Educational, Youth and Family Concerts that reach more than 5,000 children each year, and presents the annual Symphony Ball, for decades a leading annual social event in the Lehigh Valley. In March each year, the Allentown Symphony hosts the Schadt String Competition, a national competition for professional violinists, cellists and guitarists.

The Allentown Symphony has had only three music directors throughout its history, each bringing a high level of artistic quality to Lehigh Valley audiences. Donald Voorhees, famed conductor of the “Bell Telephone Hour,” served as the first music director of the Allentown Symphony for over thirty years from 1951 to 1983. Under his direction, the orchestra collaborated with such music legends as Placido Domingo, Phyllis Curtin, Rudolf Serkin, John Corigliano, Benny Goodman, and many others. William Smith conducted the Symphony from 1986 to 1990. Serving as assistant conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra at this same time, Maestro Smith brought much prestige to his post and provided renewed precision to the orchestra. In 1995, the Allentown Symphony appointed Diane Wittry as its third music director and conductor. Maestra Wittry’s original programming style and commitment to new music continues to excite and inspire local audiences, and has gained acclaim and recognition throughout the Lehigh Valley and the nation.


 

Miller Symphony Hall


 

 

The historic, 1150-seat Miller Symphony Hall is the premier performing arts facility in Allentown, the largest city in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley.

Throughout its history, Symphony Hall has been host to a wide variety of musical and theatrical performances, including Placido Domingo, Phyllis Curtin, Rudolf Serkin, John Corigliano, Carol Channing, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Sarah Bernhardt, John Barrymore, Bing Crosby, Benny Goodman, and the Marx Brothers.

Built around 1896 as the Central Market Hall, the structure was converted to a theater in 1899 by the architectural firm of J.B. McElfatrick and renamed the Lyric Theatre. Perhaps one of only a dozen of the famous McElfatrick designs still standing, for many years it was one of the leading burlesque halls in the eastern United States. In 1953, with the help of a number of community leaders, the Allentown Symphony Association bought the hall as a permanent home for its symphony orchestra, and re-christened it Symphony Hall.

The Allentown Symphony has the unique distinction of being the smallest symphony orchestra in America to own its own performance hall. In 1991, the Allentown Symphony Association began an ambitious process of renovating, upgrading and expanding the building. This 15-year project has repaired the exterior and roof, upgraded patron seating and lobby areas, created rehearsal, office and reception spaces, and added an entire wing with new lobby, teaching and dressing room spaces. With nearly $10 million in improvements and a corresponding Capital Campaign now nearing completion, the project will conclude during 2005-2006 with a complete upgrade of the Symphony Hall stage and the construction of a new acoustical shell.

Symphony Hall maintains a full production schedule of non-orchestral performances, including the new Symphony Hall Pops Series, Jazz Cabaret Series, Backstage Chamber Series, Musical Treasure Chest series for small children and their families, and a variety of Special Events.

In addition to the Allentown Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Hall also serves as home to the Pennsylvania Sinfonia, Community Concerts of Allentown, the Allentown band, the Community Music School of the Lehigh Valley and the annual Nutcracker performance of Repertory Dance Theatre.

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