Carlos Kalmar - Conductor from 2003
|City||Portland, OR, United States|
|Country||United States of America|
Founded as the Portland Symphony Society in 1896, it is the sixth oldest orchestra in the United States, and oldest in the Western United States. Its first concert was held at the Grand Theatre on October 30, 1896. By 1899 the orchestra was performing an annual concert series.
Carl Denton was a major force in helping the Portland Symphony Society enter a new era. The board of directors was elected and a manager hired. The order of conductor and concertmaster rotation was determined by drawing lots.
The orchestra continued to elect rotating conductors as leaders until the symphony board appointed Carl Denton as the first permanent conductor.
During the Great Depression, the Portland Symphony Society nearly closed in 1931. A mimeographed letter to society members pleading for donations by Isabella Gauld kept the society open. The threat of war and a budget deficit caused the board to suspend operations in 1938.
There was no regular symphony season between 1938 and 1947.
The Portland Symphony orchestra was reorganized in 1947 as a permanent professional group. Guest conductors were engaged for the 1953-1955 seasons (in lieu of a regular conductor) including Carlos Chávez, Enrique Jordá, Dimitri Mitropoulos Thomas Schippers, Boris Sirpo, Russell Stanger, and Igor Stravinsky.
Jacques Singer an American conductor led the orchestra from 1962–1972. In July 1966, a $1.25 million Ford Foundation grant was announced. In August 1967, the name was changed to the Oregon Symphony Society (and Orchestra) to reflect the wider scope of the orchestra.
James DePreist, one of the first African-American conductors, became the orchestra's conductor in 1980. In 1984, the orchestra went from part-time to full-time. James DePreist's arrangement of the theme for The Cosby Show was recorded by the orchestra in May 1988 for use in the fifth season of that television program.
A 90-minute television special produced by CBS affiliate KOIN Channel 6 in honor of the Symphony’s Centennial featured DePreist and the orchestra in a performance of its signature work, Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 In E Minor, Op. 27, and was awarded a Northwest Regional Emmy in June 1997.
DePreist remained as conductor for 23 years. By the time he left in 2003, he had led the transformation of the orchestra from a small, part-time group into a full-time nationally recognized orchestra. During that period, the orchestra released 17 recordings. Since 2003, the Uruguayan-born Carlos Kalmar has been the orchestra's music director. Wikipedia