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Arts & Culture

"We're in a Strong Place"; Symphoria Ready for Next Season as Audience Grows, Arts Scene Stabilizes

Marc Ramos
Symphoria's facebook page

Symphoria is looking ahead to another successful season even though the current slate of performances doesn’t wrap up for another month. The orchestra is planning a variety of music at a range of venues in hopes of appealing to a broader audience.

From masterworks and pops…to kids, casual, and spark concerts, managing director Catherine Underhill says there’s likely to be something for everyone when the new season opens in September.  She feels it’s part of their mission to provide an opportunity to take in live music.

"A lot of people listen to music today, but they listen to music independently.  I see everyone walking around with earbuds," Underhill said.  "It's a totally different experience, whether you're going to see Dave Matthews at Lakeview Amphitheater, or coming to a live orchestral performance, the excitement and the connection that happens being part of a live performance audience is unlike anything else."

Admission is free for kids 18 and younger, and only $5 for college students, all in an effort Underhill says to make the music as accessible as possible to a younger audience. 

She says Symphoria has seen consistently robust growth in each of the past three seasons after the collapse of former Syracuse Symphony.  Underhill says feedback both after concerts and via email has been overwhelmingly positive. 

"We're in a strong place because the diversity of our audience is perhaps broader than the previous institution," Underhill said.  "We're getting more people from lots of different places,  lots of families.  I think we can do more to attract millenials."


The orchestra is one of only two co-ops of its kind in the nation.  Underhill says the collaborative model means everyone from the musicians to the board and small administrative staff are committed to succeed…

"How can we be right-sized for our community and region?  How can we program effectively both to maintain audiences who are very familiar with classical music, and to introduce orchestral music to a much broader audience?  How do we engage kids?  These are all questions we've been chewing on and thinking about."

With the Landmark Theater and Everson Museum both back in the black, Underhill sees Symphoria as part of the resurgence of downtown…and the arts scene.

"The growth and stability of the arts organizations here is both contributing to [the resurgence of downtown] and is benefiting from that," Underhill said.  "I think we help make downtown an attractive place to visit, both for the folks who live here and those who come to the area.  There's a lot of great work that's happening here."


  • 09.23.17 - From the New World:   Anne Akiko Meyers performs Mason Bates energetic new violin concerto, which was commissioned for and premiered by her in 2012. Dvorak’s folk-inspired New World Symphony concludes the program, as well as Symphoria’s summertime celebration of the Erie Canal.
  • 10.14.17 - Beethoven's Eroica:  Shocking audiences since its premiere, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 will jolt you from its opening chords and move you through the energetic and transformative work.  Music Director Lawrence Loh conducts this striking work, which is paired with Saint-Saens single movement Cello Concerto No. 1, performed by acclaimed young cellist Julian Schwarz.
  • 11.11.17 - The Planets:  From the mighty red planet Mars to the cinematic Jupiter, Holst's The Planets has inspired sci-fi movie music for generations - most famously, John Williams's, and his The Imperial March from Star Wars. Versatile pianist, Melissa Marse makes her first appearance with Symphoria to perform Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.
  • 01.27.18 - Shifrin plays Mozart:  Music Director Lawrence Loh conducts Tchaikovsky’s dramatic Symphony No. 5. The fifth symphony includes metamorphosis through tragedy, a love song, a waltz, and on to eventual triumph. Award winning clarinetist David Shifrin performs Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto.
  • 03.03.18 - Rite of Spring:  Moscow-born pianist Natasha Paremski performs Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 on this all-Russian concert. The program concludes with Stravinsky’s controversial redefinition of 20th Century music, Rite of Spring.
  • 03.24.18 - Mendelssohn & Mahler:  Symphoria celebrates Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday with his Three Dance Episodes from On the Town before dazzling violinist Chee Yun performs Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto.   Mahler’s sunny Symphony No. 4, with its ethereal last movement describes a child’s vision of heavenly life
  • 04.28.18 - Verdi’s Requiem:  Concertmaster Peter Rovit performs Vaughan Williams effortless, lyrical work The Lark Ascending, while the second half of the program is devoted the epic masterpiece Verdi’s Requiem with the Syracuse University Oratorio Society.
  • 05.12.18 - Nakamatsu plays Beethoven:  Two revolutionary composers, both as musicians and as humanists.   Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto is performed by Syracuse-favorite Jon Nakamatsu.   Written after the death of Stalin, Shostakovich’s pulsing and militaristic Symphony No. 10 is sometimes referred to as an “optimistic tragedy.”

More information on Symphoria's upcoming season, plus the remaining performances of the 2016-2017 season is at