The Bangor Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1896, making the BSO one of the oldest continuously operating orchestras in the U.S.
The Symphony owes its start to Abbie N.Garland, a popular Bangor piano teacher and composer, who — at the age of 44 — decided her town needed a symphony orchestra.
The first year, she managed the organization with the help of Symphony Conductor Horace Mann Pullen. The second year, she recruited musicians and the third year, she sponsored the Symphony’s subscription sale. She also worked tirelessly to educate the public about Symphonic music and to create enthusiasm for unfamiliar pieces.
The Symphony played its first concert on November 2, 1896 in Bangor City Hall. Horace Mann Pullen conducted the 16-member orchestra in a program featuring Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony.
Throughout its history, the Bangor Symphony Orchestra has continually grown artistically while retaining its community focus. Young People’s Concerts were first offered in 1909, and the Maine High School Concerto Competition was first held in 1980 to nurture local talent.
Today, the Symphony is led by Grammy Award-winning Music Director and Conductor Lucas Richman. Mainstage programs include a performance series at the Collins Center for the Arts, with 5 Masterworks Concerts, The Nutcracker with the Robinson Ballet, and annual Young People’s Concerts. Educational and community programming includes the Maine High School Concerto Competition, the Maurice P. King Master Class, the Bangor Symphony Youth Orchestras, a Music & Wellness Program at area hospitals, and a rich variety of initiatives at the Bangor Arts Exchange.
Since 1896, ten Music Directors have held the baton for the Bangor Symphony Orchestra — and many guest artists have brought their talents to Symphony performances.
Past Music Directors
- Horace Mann Pullen (1896 – 1920)
- Melville H. Andrews (1901 – 1904)
- Adelbert Wells Sprague (1920 – 1952)
- A. Stanley Cayting (1952 – 1964)
- Peter Re (1964 – 1976)
- Miles Morgan (1976 – 1980)
- Werner Torkanowsky (1981 – 1992)
- Christopher Zimmerman (1994 – 2001)
- Xiao-Lu Li (2002 – 2008)
- Lucas Richman (2010 – Present)
- Society Hall in The Nichols Block / Bangor Arts Exchange (1896 – 1924 / 2017 – Present)
- Bangor City Hall (1896 – 1964)
- Andrews House of Music (1924 – 1929)
- Symphony House / Isaac Farrar Mansion (1929 – 1972)
- Peakes Auditorium (1964 – 1985)
- Bangor Opera House (1985 – 1988)
- Maine Center for the Arts / Collins Center for the Arts (1986 – Present)