Huntsville Symphony Orchestra

Long considered the region's premiere performing arts group, the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra has set the standard in North Alabama for artistic quality, community support and service through education. For over five decades, the HSO's acclaimed concerts and award-winning education programs have inspired performers, audiences, children, benefactors and the entire community.

The HSO is the oldest, continuously operating professional orchestra in the state of Alabama. The Orchestra's genesis is intricately linked with the arrival of Wernher von Braun and his German rocket team, marking the beginning of an era of sensational growth in our city and creating a unique synthesis between old and new, cherished traditions and unprecedented progress.

Source: Huntsville Symphony Orchestra website


The Huntsville Symphony Orchestra is a symphonic orchestra in Huntsville, Alabama. The current conductor is Carlos Miguel Prieto, the son of renowned cellist Carlos Prieto. Prieto has been conductor since the 2003-2004 season.


The orchestra was founded by Arthur Fraser and Alvin Dreger, as a response to the arrival of Wernher von Braun and his rocket team. Fraser would go on to serve as the symphony's first conductor, from 1954 to 1959. The Huntsville Civic Orchestra gave its inaugural concert on December 13, 1955.

From 1959 to 1971, Russell Gerhart was the conductor. In June 1968 the Huntsville Civic Orchestra changed its name to the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra.

Marx Pales held the conductorship from 1971 to 1988. Under his tenure, the orchestra received awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers for "Adventuresome Programming" in 1972 and 1975.

The Estonian Taavo Virkhaus was the symphony’s fourth conductor from 1989 to 2003. On January 28, 1995, violinist Itzhak Perlman played in the symphony's fortieth anniversary gala.

On February 26, 2005, cellist Yo-Yo Ma played in the symphony's fiftieth anniversary gala.




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