The Alabama Symphony Orchestra is (almost) 100 years old! Here’s how you can celebrate with them

The Alabama Symphony Orchestra’s centennial season is coming up! Photo courtesy of ASO

The Alabama Symphony Orchestra just announced their 100th anniversary season! Here’s how they’re celebrating this impressive milestone—and how you can join. 

ASO: The History

The ASO chorus. Photo courtesy of ASO

The ASO started way back in April of 1921 when a group of volunteer musicians banded together to perform at the Birmingham Music Festival. The orchestra’s first official concert didn’t happen until 1933. Over the years it has grown in its mission to bring symphonic performances to everyone in our state. And it’s worth noting that the ASO isn’t just for classical music aficionados—they offer performances in a variety of genres.

This year, the ASO is continuing to expand its reach by bringing its Masterworks Series to the Gogue Performing Arts Center at Auburn University as well as venues in Trussville, Anniston and more. 

“I’m excited about being a part of the ASO’s Centennial Season. It’s a huge milestone that not many American Orchestras have reached. Atlanta is just celebrating its 75th this year, so it’s really special.”

Mark Patrick, interim executive director, Alabama Symphony Orchestra

The Centennial Performances

Grammy Award-winning pianist Joyce Yang performs with the ASO. Photo courtesy of ASO 

The ASO has a variety of events planned to commemorate the occasion, including:

  • Guest artists Joyce Yang (Van Cliburn Silver Medalist and Grammy Nominated pianist), Santiago Cañón-Valencia (Tchaikovsky Competition Silver Medalist), Bobby Horton, Tessa Lark, and more!
  • Two new pieces commissioned through the Sound Investment Program—one co-commissioned with the American Youth Symphony and another with Alabama native Martin Kennedy. 
  • Four performances with the all-volunteer ASO chorus, including Brahms’ German Requiem, Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, and Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony. 
  • 100th anniversary celebration that coincides with the orchestra’s performance of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony on April 9 and 10, 2021.

“We have some amazing concerts scheduled featuring the best of the best, with performances of Holst’s The Planets, Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony, and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. This Masterworks Season is a way to show off the true artistry and virtuosity of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.”

Mark Patrick, interim executive director, Alabama Symphony Orchestra

Preserving 100 Years of ASO History

Photo courtesy of ASO

The ASO is also working with the Auburn University Department of Archives to turn ASO’s 100 years of history into a book. The department is also gathering and categorizing historical items to be displayed during Masterworks performances and at the Centennial Celebration next year. 

You can help preserve this history, too! If you have any items, photos, programs, or publications related to the 1921 Birmingham Music Festival, Birmingham Civic Symphony Association, Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Alabama Pops Orchestra, the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, contact the ASO office. 

Know Before You Go

The ASO performing at UAB’s Alys Stephens Center. Photo courtesy of ASO

If you’ve never been to the symphony before, don’t sweat it. Here are some helpful tips about what to wear, when to arrive, etc. The orchestra welcomes everyone who wants to enjoy music!

Get Tickets

Carlos Izcaray, music director of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. Photo courtesy of ASO

Current ASO subscribers can renew now for as low as $63. Public subscriptions will be available on April 19, 2020 and can be purchased in person (1200 10th Ave. South, Birmingham) or by calling the Alys Stephens Center Box Office at 205.975.2787. 

Individual concert ticket sales for the centennial season will begin this summer. Visit alabamasymphony.org for more information. 

“The ASO is a World Class orchestra. That’s right, right here in your backyard resides an amazing Symphony Orchestra. I’ve had many of the biggest classical music stars in the world like Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile, even Rock n Rollers like Steve Vai tell me, “Wow, I’m really blown away by how good this group is!” This group of musicians can hold their own with many orchestras that are much bigger. They really are a special group.”

Mark Patrick, interim executive director, Alabama Symphony Orchestra

Are you a fan of the ASO? Do you plan to attend a performance this year? Let us know @BhamNow!