History of the Orchestra

With passion and finesse, the Allentown Symphony with Music Director & Conductor, Diane Wittry, plays time-honored masterworks, newly commissioned world premieres, and unusual and intriguing repertoire, including works by prominent new composers.  Each year, the ASO performs more than 20 classical,pops, educational, and family concerts. In 2014, the orchestra received the national American Prize for “orchestral excellence.”

Exciting world-class artists that have performed with the ASO include Midori, Emanuel Ax, Richard Stoltzman, Garrick Ohlsson, Angela Meade, and Peter Serkin, as well as jazz trumpeter Byron Stripling, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, and Broadway vocalist Christiane Noll.  The orchestra’s classical trained musicians include players from the major urban centers of New York, Baltimore-D.C., and Philadelphia.

The ASO has received music commissioning grants from the National Endowment of the Arts, and from the League of American Orchestras in support of its El Sistema-inspired program for at-risk youth.  The Symphony Association
also annually hosts the National Schadt String Competition which attracts top young performers from all over the world.

Music Director Diane Wittry, a California native who has worked with Michael Tilson Thomas among others, is known for her innovating programming style, using video, dancers, subtitles and other visuals that give her concerts a sense of occasion. She has been a stellar advocate for music education outreach for all ages and skill levels.  Lehigh Valley native Ron Demkee serves as the Symphony’s Associate Conductor, directing the Pops Series. The two previous ASO conductors were Donald Voorhees, the distinguished conductor of the studio orchestra for NBC’s Emmy-award-winning The Bell Telephone Hour and William Smith, assistant Conductor to the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy.

Presenting exciting concerts for all, the Allentown Symphony is only one of a handful of American orchestras to own its own acoustically superb concert hall, Miller Symphony Hall.  As it has for the last 65 years, the Allentown Symphony will continue its pursuit of excellence with passion, keeping alive the legacy of masterworks while bringing the works of modern masters to the concert stage for you and all of the community.