Greenwich Symphony History



In the 1940s a group of amateur musicians began playing together in Greenwich. Several concerts under the baton of Kenneth Wendrich led to the founding of the Greenwich Philharmonia in 1958, with Catherine Converse as first president. Marian Jeffrey succeeded Mrs. Converse in 1967. Under her leadership the orchestra began a steady rise in growth and prestige. John Nelson became music director in 1967. The orchestra – now fully professional and 85 strong – was awarded its first grants from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts and from local corporations and benefactors, enabling it to expand the season to five dual Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon performances. The Philharmonia Auxiliary, headed by Dorothy Gluckmann, established its annual award to a gifted high school senior, and began to serve, support, and promote the orchestra in a variety of important ways.

In 1975 David Gilbert was named Music Director and Conductor. Associate Conductor Patricia Handy, who conducted the GSO’s highly acclaimed Young People’s Concerts series, joined in 1979. In 2010, the GSO welcomed Associate Conductor Tara Simoncic, who presents the Pre-Concert Lectures and conducts the Young People’s Concerts. The Greenwich Philharmonia was renamed the Greenwich Symphony Orchestra in its 25th anniversary season, 1982 to 1983, and the Auxiliary became the Symphony Guild. That season marked the GSO’s first dual concert with the Greenwich Choral Society, and the establishment of the endowment fund, which was greatly enhanced by gala benefit concerts starring Victor Borge in 1986 and 1999. Following Olwen Jones and Mahlon Perkins, Mary Radcliffe was named president in 1983.

In 1987 the Greenwich Arts Council and Department of Parks and Recreation sponsored the first annual “Greenwich Pops into Summer” free outdoor concert, presented by the GSO and Greenwich Choral Society.

Throughout its history, the GSO has been managed by its experienced and dedicated volunteer Board of Directors. Consequently, it enjoys the lowest administrative overhead ratio of any orchestra with a comparable budget in the American Symphony Orchestra League.

Over the years, the GSO has featured such outstanding soloists as Emanuel Ax, Barry Douglas, Pamela Frank, John O’Conor, Peter Serkin, and Dawn Upshaw. We thank our audience and friends who, with their dedicated and generous support, help us present a wide variety of great orchestral music in Greenwich.