Our Story

The Lancaster Symphony Orchestra made its official debut on May 1, 1947, at McCaskey High School Auditorium (Lancaster, PA) under the baton of Conductor Louis Vyner.


Ticket prices ranged from $1.20 to $2.40 per person. The concert earned several standing ovations and the entire affair earned a profit of $236.

Prior efforts to create a hometown orchestra were derailed by two world wars and one national economic depression. After the end of World War II, however, the community felt ready to support a local symphony. Efforts to establish the Lancaster Symphony were spearheaded by several community leaders. Chief among them was Armstrong World Industries executive Kenneth O. Bates (who became the Symphony’s second Board president after Frederic Klein).

During his board service, Bates and Cameron Hawley (who later claimed fame as a noted author) developed the idea of the Composer’s Award. The idea captured national attention and remains a Lancaster Symphony feature, bringing outstanding contemporary American composers to Lancaster annually.  Past award recipients have included Leroy Anderson, Morton Gould and Russell Peck.

Our Mission

The core purpose of the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra is to enrich, entertain, and educate the south central Pennsylvania community through unique live musical performances and to provide community engagement opportunities for students of all ages.

Now in its 75th season, the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra celebrates its Diamond Jubilee and a return to a new LSO!

The Symphony has evolved from a community orchestra playing a few concerts per year into a $1 million organization of professional musicians presenting Classic Series concerts and the Sounds of the Season holiday concert series. The concerts feature international guest artists and conductors and frequent U.S. and world premières, such as 2012’s national première of Disney’s Fantasia Live In Concert. Saturday evening audiences are also treated to a post-concert reception where they can interact with the Symphony’s musicians and guest artists.

The Symphony’s Sound Discovery Programs feature nationally recognized, award-winning programs developed exclusively for the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra. Sound Discovery’s programs include the Carnegie Hall Link Up Concerts, StandPartners, Gift of Music, Master Classes, Instrument Test Drive, Play it Forward, Symphony Library Pass, and the LSO Neighborhood Series.


I so appreciate that the Music Discovery Concert and Instrument Petting Zoo typically fall in the same week. The presenters are engaging, and they make the instruments accessible.

Excitement and enrollment are at an all-time high because of this strong preparation, with over 80% of our 4th graders starting a band or orchestra instrument. In addition to this, the Music Discovery Concert continues to inspire 4th and 5th graders who already play an instrument, as they see the potential for the future if they keep studying the instrument.

These are fantastic programs, and I will always recommend them highly.

Thank you so much for all of the goodies! What a wonderful blessing to our music program. The chocolate bar is a wonderful addition to the surprise. My supply drawers are overflowing for the first time in 15 years. I will get such a kick out of distributing these items.

Adonica Spolum, M. Ed., NBCT, Music Teacher
Ross Elementary School

We brought with us my cousin visiting from Boston, who sings with the Tanglewood Chorus. He was quite impressed with the quality of our fine orchestra.

Wonderful afternoon of glorious music! GREAT blend of vocal and instrumental performances. Selections were superb.

Wonderful concert!! We truly enjoyed the music selection and the quality.

It was our first time hearing the LSO and a very enjoyable concert.

Corporate Sponsorships

We are thrilled to partner with generous organizations that share our commitment to enriching the community.