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Sixty-one years ago on October 27, l947, in New York's historic Town Hall, The Little Orchestra Society raised its musical voice with Josef Haydn's Sinfonie Concertante. Since that auspicious debut concert, The Little Orchestra Society has injected vigor and excitement into New York's musical scene and remains "a refreshing force in the life of the city." -The New York Times
Unique at the time of its creation, the Orchestra's mission was to revive the small, elegant, compact type of ensemble for which the early great orchestral works were written and to wrest the contemporary concert repertoire from the rut of established stereotypes with premieres of important new music and restorations of long-neglected masterpieces.
Over six decades of innovative concerts have included world, American and New York premieres in all of New York's major concert halls; American and foreign tours, radio broadcasts, recordings and a complement of awards for programmatic excellence. With its various concert series at Lincoln Center, this premier education orchestra in the tri-state region presents music for all ages, from its unique Lolli-Pops™ concerts for pre-schoolers to its Sound Discoveries programs of twentieth-century music for adults.
In its adult concerts at Alice Tully Hall, The Little Orchestra Society has introduced more than 65 world premieres of works by composers ranging from Franz Schubert to Douglas Moore and David Diamond; more than l75 American and New York premieres from Antonio Vivaldi to John Corigliano and Christopher Rouse; and revivals of many long-neglected orchestral pieces from Muzio Clementi to Sergei Rachmaninoff and Aaron Copland. By means of ingenious concert versions, more than 60 operas have been offered with outstanding success to Little Orchestra subscribers, including first American performances of Richard Strauss's Daphne, Intermezzo and Die Frau ohne Schatten; Gaetano Donizetti's Maria Stuarda; Hector Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini; Leos Janacek's Jenufa, and Antonio Vivaldi's L'Olimpiade, Arsilda, regina di Ponto and Tamerlano.
The Little Orchestra Society's current Sound Discoveries concerts of twentieth-century music are unique informances which involve the audience with the historical milieu of the music through engaging dialogue in addition to performance.
Vivaldi's Venice, the orchestra's enormously successful spring festival at Alice Tully Hall, continues to offer an in-depth look at Antonio Vivaldi's life and times through a comprehensive presentation of his compositional output. During the last decade, audiences have been re-introduced to oratorios, operas, concerti, chamber music, cantatas, orchestral pieces and transcriptions of the Venetian master and his contemporaries. The Little Orchestra Society has become the foremost Vivaldi orchestra in America.
The first orchestra in New York to present professional classical music concerts for children ages six to twelve (l948), its Happy Concerts for Young People at Avery Fisher Hall have provided over one million children a first acquaintance with great music and have been broadcast nation-wide to hundreds of thousands of homes. These concerts have won the coveted George Foster Peabody Award for outstanding and venturesome programming. The Society, conducted by Dino Anagnost, recorded three works from the Happy Concerts repertoire - Peter and the Wolf Gerald McBoing Boing, and A Zoo Called Earth, which was nominated for a Grammy Award.
The Orchestra's l986-87 season launched the extremely popular Lolli-Pops™ series, concerts for pre-school youngsters ages three to five. As a child's first introduction to live classical music, children learn about music as Mr. Maestro and four animal characters named Bang, Buzz, Toot and Bow - representing the four families of the orchestra - involve them in performances that weave together music, theater, dance and art.
In 1980, Maestro Anagnost initiated Chance for Children, a community outreach and arts education program that offers children from pre-kindergarten through high school the opportunity to hear and learn about classical music through student and teacher workshops integrating the live concert experience into the curriculum. Since this program began, The Little Orchestra Society has introduced the glories of classical music to over one million metropolitan area young people.
Unique among established orchestras, The Little Orchestra Society has had only two conductors in its 60+ year history, FounderThomas Scherman, who remained its music director until his death in 1979 and Dino Anagnost.