Formed in 1921, the Omaha Symphony gives over 200 concerts a year, performing in both Nebraska and Iowa. Counting radio broadcasts, almost 300,000 people hear the Symphony’s music annually. The Symphony performs at two venues in Omaha: The Holland Performing Arts Center (a 2000 seat concert hall at 13th & Douglas) and at the Willis A. & Janet S. Strauss Performing Arts Center (on the UNO campus at 60th & Dodge).
With 39 full-time core musicians and an expanded full orchestra of 92, the Symphony is just a hair short of Berkshire Hathaway size. Unlike Berkshire and Buffett, the Symphony falls under the musical direction of Thomas Wilkins. He has held the position since 2006, the 11th such musical director since the Symphony formed. Ernest Richardson serves as the Resident Conductor.
As a community-based orchestra, both professionals and talented locals share the stage. Wilkins and Richardson are locals, as well. After conducting across the country, California to New Jersey, Rhode to Texas, Wilkins, his wife, and twin daughters have settled in Omaha. Richardson, his wife, and three children, are equally well-traveled, but now call Omaha their home.
The Symphony holds various performances from June to September. Any group that plays a Rolling Stones Tribute and music by John Tesh in the same season is alright by us. Tickets range from the highly affordable $24 adult general admission ticket for the Family Series to multiple concert packages that top out in the mid $200s. In general, when the steep discounts for children, students, and seniors are taken into account, pricing seems more than reasonable for such a unique form of entertainment.
The Symphony is assisted by the Omaha Symphony Guild, whose mission is to "promote the growth and development of the Omaha Symphony Orchestra for the pleasure and education of residents of Greater Omaha and the States of Nebraska and Iowa." Formed in 1957, the Guild supports the Symphony through volunteer activities, education programs, advocacy, and financial contributions.
Those really interested in the Symphony might also want to look into the Omaha Chamber Music Society. The Society shares many of the same musicians as the Symphony and does its part to spread quality classical music to the greater Omaha area. More information about the musicians, including lengthy and surprisingly entertaining bio’s, can be found at the site for the Omaha Symphony Musicians Organization.