The St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra has successfully carried out its mission to present high-quality performance of music and educational outreach activities to Central Minnesota, to encourage participation by local and area musicians, and to further the understanding and appreciation of music for over 47 years. The SCSO provides Central Minnesota with magnificent performances, interesting and varied programming, meaningful community involvement, and effective and irreplaceable educational outreach. The St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra has about 65 members ranging in age from 17 to 75. The musicians come from St. Cloud, Central Minnesota, and the Twin Cities for the opportunity to play with a professional orchestra. Several have played since the first concert 40 years ago.
The concert season begins with a multi-genre Preview Concert featuring local guest artists. This is followed by four Subscription Concerts, including the perennially popular Holiday Pops Concert. The season ends with the Lemonade Concert—a free outdoor performance for the community held in conjunction with the Lemonade Concert and Arts Fair on the St. Cloud State University campus.
The Symphony offers a broad spectrum of dynamic educational opportunities. Pre-Concert Discussions hosted by the Artistic Director will discuss the historical context of each piece, and highlight musical elements audience members can expect to hear. The presentation often includes visual and audio examples. Classics for Kids brings SCSO musicians into area 4th grade classrooms to discuss and share music in a small-group setting. In April the Symphony produces a concert program designed to introduce the orchestra and its constituent instruments to 1,400 fourth-grade students from three area school districts. The students are prepared for the live orchestra experience by their teachers, using multimedia curriculum materials produced by the SCSO. The Young Performers Competition and the Honors Concert give high-school and college students the opportunity to perform for a panel of judges, receive professional feedback and qualify for scholarships from the SCSO. The Grand Prize winner of the competition performs as soloist with the SCSO.
In conjunction with the vibrant educational programs offered, The Symphony focuses on underserved student and family audiences. This includes the Student Ticket Program that provides families with children who take music lessons the opportunity to attend The Symphony at affordable prices: two adults and one music student (or one adult and two students) can attend for the price of a single adult ticket. Youth 17-and-under get free admission to the Preview Concert and the Children's Holiday Potpourri Concert (10 AM on December 9, 2023).
The Symphony’s long-standing and effective partnership with St. Cloud State University positively impacts both organizations. The Symphony receives free rehearsal space, dramatically discounted hall rental, and the complimentary use of a concert grand piano and professional percussion equipment for rehearsals and performances. In return the SCSO provides performance opportunities for professors and students.
The Symphony is governed by an active Board of Directors that includes members from diverse career disciplines, allowing each member to contribute to the organization in a way that is essential to development and stability.