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.