Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) is a Canadian orchestra based in Vancouver, British Columbia. The VSO performs at the Orpheum, which has been the orchestra's permanent home since 1977. With an annual operating budget of $16 million, it is the third largest symphony orchestra in Canada and the largest performing arts organization in Western Canada. It performs 140 concerts per season. The VSO broadcasts annually on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The orchestra is affiliated with the VSO School of Music, which was established in September 2011. Chamber music concerts by VSO musicians take place at Pyatt Hall on the VSO School of Music campus.

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO)
VSO Group Portrait.jpg
The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra with Otto Tausk in 2019
Founded1919; 103 years ago (1919)
Concert hallOrpheum
Music directorOtto Tausk
Official Vancouver Symphony Orchestra logo


The current VSO was founded by the Vancouver Symphony Society in 1919, largely through the efforts of arts patron Elisabeth (Mrs. B.T.) Rogers. There was an earlier but unrelated orchestra using the same name was formed in 1897 by Adolf Gregory, but lasted for only one season; it was briefly revived in 1907 by Charles Ward. The VSO's first conductor was Henry Green; F.L. Beecher was the first president and Rogers the first vice-president. After two seasons, the orchestra disbanded in 1921 for financial reasons and after Green left. Performances resumed in 1930, again largely because of Rogers, with Allard de Ridder as music director. From the 1940s until 1959, the orchestra performed at the Georgia Auditorium; it then moved to the new Queen Elizabeth Theatre.[1]

The VSO also served as the Vancouver Opera company's orchestra during the 1960s and 1970s, until the creation of the separate Vancouver Opera Orchestra in 1977. During the late 1960s and 1970s, the orchestra often appeared in joint concerts with the Vancouver Woodwind Quintet. Kazuyoshi Akiyama was music director from 1972 to 1985, and is now the orchestra's conductor laureate.

In 1979–1980, the VSO had the largest subscription list of any symphony in North America.[2] However, in spite of a CBC recording contract, a quarterly magazine and an ambitious touring schedule, the VSO began to encounter financial difficulties. In 1988, it was forced to shut down for five months to regroup and deal with a $2.3 million deficit. With creditors forgiving the debt, the VSO began to rebuild. The orchestra began an annual series of outdoor summer concerts and in 1996 appointed their first composer in residence.[1]

From 2000 to 2018, the VSO's Music Director was Bramwell Tovey. His initial contract was extended in December 2004 through the 2009–2010 season,[3] and further extended in January 2010 through the 2014–2015 season.[4] They played during the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics. In November 2013, the VSO announced the further extension of Tovey's contract through the 2017–2018 season, and the scheduled conclusion of his music directorship of the VSO at that time. Tovey took the title of VSO Music Director Emeritus with the 2018–2019 season, the VSO's 100th season.[5] The VSO and Tovey won the 2008 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (with Orchestra), for their recording of the Korngold, Barber, and Walton violin concerti, featuring Canadian violinist James Ehnes. The recording won a 2008 Juno Award for Classical Album of the Year (large ensemble).

In January 2016, Otto Tausk first guest-conducted the VSO. He returned for a second guest-conducting appearance in January 2017. In February 2017, the VSO named Otto Tausk its next Music Director, starting on July 1, 2018. He held the title of Music Director-Designate for the 2017–2018 season.[6] Starting in the 2018-2019 season, Otto Tausk became the Music Director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

Music directorsEdit

Composers in residenceEdit

Presidents and managersEdit

  • Victor White (1963–1972)
  • Michael Allerton (1972–1985) (Orchestra Manager)
  • John Smith (1985–1986) (Interim General Manager)
  • Ed Oscapella (1986–1989)
  • Diane Hoar (1989–1992)
  • Graeme Page (1992–1993)
  • Howard Jang (1993–1995)
  • Ron Dumouchelle (1995–2000)
  • Jeff Alexander (2000–2014)
  • Kelly Tweeddale (2015–2019)
  • Angela Elster (2020–present)


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Vancouver Symphony Orchestra". Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2017-02-03.
  2. ^ Henighan, Tom (2000). The Maclean's Companion to Canadian Arts and Culture. Raincoast Books. ISBN 1-55192-298-3.
  3. ^ Ben Mattison (20 December 2004). "Conductor Bramwell Tovey Extends Vancouver Symphony Tenure, Steps Down From Luxembourg Post". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 2007-12-23.
  4. ^ David Gordon Duke, "Bramwell Tovey signs on for five more years". Vancouver Sun, 28 January 2010.
  5. ^ David Gordon Duke (2013-11-30). "VSO transition: Music director Bramwell Tovey to step down after 2018 season". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2013-12-01.
  6. ^ David Gordon Duke (2017-02-03). "Vancouver Symphony Orchestra taps Dutch conductor Otto Tausk as next music director". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2017-02-06.
  7. ^ Bryan N.S. Gooch; Evan Ware; Lawrence Cluderay (23 June 2011). "Vancouver Symphony Orchestra". Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2014-10-14.

External linksEdit