The Guelph Symphony Orchestra: so much more than what you see on the Main Stage!

Guelph Symphony Orchestra- Our Story

Guelph Symphony Orchestra has established a reputation for presenting captivating and compelling performances with imaginative programming. From Main stage concerts at River Run, with world class guest artists, to our free Pop Up Orchestra Festival, GSO is dedicated to transforming the orchestral experience. While continuing to present beloved classics, GSO sees a symphony as a vibrant library of sound that serves a multiplicity of styles, traditions, and communities.

We strive to bring the joy and inspiration to the lives of our community with outreach programs designed for everyone from the very young, to those in our vibrant retirement community. One of our organization’s most important mandates is to make musical outreach available to all, at no cost or subsidized, offering equal access for all to this great art form. We believe that music unites people, with the potential to eliminate socio-economic differences. Our annual, free, Pop Up Orchestra Festival offers concerts in unexpected places in a relaxed setting. (Past performances have included the Coffee Cantata in a coffee shoppe, Harry Potter at the Museum, Siegfried Idyll on the magnificent staircase of University of Guelph’s MacDonald Hall, An afternoon at Hogwarts for Children’s Family Services and a participatory concert for the residents of St. Joseph’s Health Centre).

Many of our players are leading national pedagogues. Through our GSOKids program and the next generation of musicians is nurtured through our Guelph Symphony Youth Orchestra.

Our Educational programs include:

GSOKids Symphony Club for ages 6-13 (a free Symphonic Club for kids. As part of the program, each child and a parent/guardian/grandparent get to attend workshops and concerts at no charge). Economically disadvantaged children receive music lessons on orchestral instruments.

Symphonic Discovery School Program: This educational program has exceeded our expectations. Students and teachers alike treat us as musical superstars and are keen to absorb all that we are teaching.

Kinderconcerts: for the 5 and under set- Guelph Symphony Orchestra share stories and works by great composers, introducing children aged five and under to a rich variety of sounds and instruments. Kinderconcerts offer a hands-on experience with lots of audience participation!

Guelph Symphony Youth Orchestra: a full symphonic orchestra program for players 16-28 years of age, with coaching from the musicians of the GSO.

Under-23 Concerto Competition: Open to emerging young artists, who compete for the opportunity to perform a concerto with GSO in the following season.

We are grateful for our community partnerships with the University of Guelph (GSYO) and the Guelph Community Health Centre (Social Prescribing).

Community highlights from our 2022-23 season include performances at Hillside, at the Guelph Arboretum with Yukon Bhangra dance artist Gurdeep Pandher, spreading his message of joy, hope positivity and inclusivity, at Royal City Park and the Shelldale Family Centre.

We are thrilled to have been awarded a grant supplement from the Ontario Arts Council in recognition of the quality of our concerts, our community outreach and ensuring that diversity is fully reflected in our artistic activities.

The Guelph Symphony Orchestra: so much more than what you see on the Main Stage!

Founding Artistic Director: Simon Irving, 2001-2010

Artistic Director: Judith Yan, 2011-2019

Next Artistic Director: to be announced June, 2023

Mission and Vision

We are committed to serving the community of Guelph by taking a leading role in the vibrant artistic life of this progressive city. We intend to accomplish this by expanding our reach into the diverse and varied sectors of the community, and by doing so, continue to build the next generation of audiences.

OUR VISION is to create an environment of INCLUSIVENESS, EQUALITY, and DIVERSITY with through symphonic music.

One of our organization’s most important mandate is to make outreach services available to all, at no cost or subsidized, offering equal access for all to this great art form. As we believe that music has the ability to unite people, with the potential to reduce or even eliminate socio-economic differences, we feel it is important to keep the presence of music ever available in our community.