100 years of exceptional music
The Fort Collins Symphony:
Exceptional then… Exceptional now!
Now and then, an exceptional idea takes flight and develops into a lasting benefit for the common good. Just such a moment occurred in 1923 when a visionary young violinist, Miss Editha Todd (Leonard), established the Fort Collins Community Orchestra. Under her baton, this foundling music organization eventually grew into the Fort Collins Symphony. Through the dedication of its musicians, board, staff, auxiliaries, and audiences, this orchestra has inspired, engaged, educated, served, and enriched the greater Northern Colorado community for 100 years.
In 1948, Will Schwartz—then a young violinist fresh out of New York City’s prestigious Juilliard School—accepted a music professorship at Colorado State University. In 1949, Maestro Schwartz became music director for the evolving Fort Collins Civic Symphony Orchestra. His talent and reputation quickly grew the modest ensemble. Over the course of 50 years, he recruited extraordinary talent, inspired a loyal following, and cemented respect for the orchestra–a legacy that remains in place today.
As the FCS matured, additional support was needed to manage its professional growth. In 1950, the Fort Collins Symphonic Society (now the Fort Collins Symphony Association), incorporated to provide program guidance, personnel management, and fiscal oversight for the organization. The Women’s Guild (now the Friends of the Symphony) was established in 1963 to create special events and coordinate fundraising activities.
Maestro Fusao Kajima, a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music and University of Michigan, served briefly for two seasons as the Symphony’s music director and conductor.
Then in 2003, continuing the town-and-gown alliance, Colorado State University’s Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance and the FCS announced the joint hiring of award-winning conductor Wes Kenney. Until his retirement from CSU in 2023, he served as music director for the CSU Symphony Orchestra, CSU Chamber Orchestra, and taught the graduate conducting course. Maestro Kenney continues to serve the FCS as music director and conductor. In addition, he frequently appears as a guest conductor for orchestras around the world.
Now, from its amateur beginnings to the professional orchestra you enjoy today, the Fort Collins Symphony is one of the premier cultural organizations of the greater Northern Colorado region. With over 55 professional musicians, programming that offers a comprehensive range of music, numerous community service events, and a busy educational outreach program, your orchestra is poised to build upon its tradition of excellence for years to come.
Please join your Fort Collins Symphony to experience a season filled with music both familiar and new; discover a wealth of extraordinary composers; explore educational opportunities for children, families, and the young-at-heart; seek out community-wide events; and celebrate our centennial anniversary.
Then & Now...
Your Fort Collins Symphony: always exceptional!