The CSO was founded by community music supporters in the early 80’s, with our debut concert in 1984. Originally a joint project of the music departments at Hendrix College and University of Central Arkansas, the CSO roster is composed of approximately 2/3 pre-professional musicians with the remainder professional musicians from across the region. With an initial schedule of two classical concerts a year, an informal Concert in the Park was added a few years later, followed by a concert for schoolchildren in 1995.
In 1999, we expanded our community concert offerings with a holiday concert and a children’s concert to introduce youth to live orchestra music. With the addition of a mainstage Pops concert in 2008-2009, we have expanded to six concerts in most seasons, frequently including a contracted performance as part of the UCA Public Appearances series. As the symphony has grown, our relationship with UCA has become more formalized with our Conductor/Music Director holding a faculty position, and their scholarship students serving as our musicians.
The primary purpose of the Conway Symphony Orchestra is to provide high-quality, professional musical performances and educational programs for the Central Arkansas community. Through the support of corporate and individual donors and fundraising events, we are able to keep our tickets affordable, making the enjoyment of classical and popular music available to a wide-range of patrons. Within the past eight years, we’ve added a full concert without raising ticket prices, created a season ticket option for faculty/staff, and expanded our discounted child/student price to all youth and college students, broadening our availability to a whole new generation. Our conductor, Israel Getzov, prides himself on making the music accessible and enjoyable, providing commentary interspersed with his exciting musical selections at every performance.
The CSO has steadily expanded our community and educational outreach programs. In 2008, our music director created a program to bring music into the classrooms of elementary and intermediate schools, providing an educational and interactive experience for children at NO COST to the schools. In nine short years, we’ve reached more than 20,000 students through close to 400 visits to public, private and parochial schools, home school groups, a center for adults with disabilities, preschool programs, and Boys and Girls Clubs. Last year we added a children’s program and concert at the library. We regularly invite the clients of Independent Living Services to be our guests at concert performances, and provide free vouchers to our concerts to families involved in Big Brothers/Big Sisters; Boys and Girls Clubs; Haven House; and schools across Conway. We support community fundraisers through the donation of hundreds of tickets, with past recipients including local healthcare facilities, schools, civic groups, children’s programs, the Humane Society, and other arts organizations.
Conway Symphony Orchestra is unique in many ways. We provide our pre-professional musicians an unparalleled opportunity to play alongside professionals in an orchestra setting. We have an international exchange relationship with conservatories and orchestras in China that grows every year. We present an outdoor concert that is completely free to the public. We collaborate with other arts organizations in the area to strengthen the regional arts programs. We are proud of the community support we receive, and of the support we provide to the community.