The Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra, in its present form, was founded by Lisa Utzinger ’02 and Sara Curtin ’02 in 1999 as a student organisation. The first concert was conducted by George Matthew, followed by two more by David Gibson between 2000 and 2001.
In the Fall of 2001, at the students’ request, the Orchestra became a credited Music Department Ensemble. Concurrently, the college appointed its first Director of Orchestra and Lecturer in Music, Mark Bartley. The subsequent years were years of rapid growth and expansion for the orchestra. In the fall of 2006, Eric Benjamin became the second faculty conductor and director of the orchestra. For the season of 2010 – 2011, the Orchestra enjoyed a year of Russian inflected repertoire with an Interim Director of Orchestra, Taiwanese Conductor Ching-Chun Lai.
Today, the orchestra is a vibrant community of musicians open to musicians from all five valley institutions with members from Mount Holyoke College, Hampshire College and the community led by conductor Tian Hui Ng who joins the Orchestra as its new Director in 2011.
With its tradition of student leadership in both administrative and musical matters, it is unsurprising that the orchestra has provided conducting opportunities for aspiring conductors from within the orchestra’s ranks. Within its short history, the orchestra has been conducted by Rebecca Markarian '07 (2006-07), Hannah Shook '06 (2005-2006) and Anne Vittoria FP (2003-2004).
As an important ensemble within a venerable institution, the orchestra has garnered an admirably long list of collaborators since its inception in 1999. The MHC Orchestra has collaborated with a ensembles such as the Boston University Choral Society, Boston University Men's Chorus, Cornell University Hangovers, Euridice Quartet, New England Conservatory Children's Chorus, South Hadley Children’s Chorus, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Symphony Orchestra, WPI Men's Glee Club, Yale Camerata, and Mount Holyoke College’s own Bell, Choral and Jazz Ensembles.
The orchestra has performed with artists S. Mark Aliapoulios, Rochelle Bard, Charlie Blandy, Andra Bohnet, Mara Bonde, Aaron Engebreth, Craig Hanson, Marjorie Melnick, Stacie Pirozzi, Elisabeth Russ and Meredith Hansen Skinner, in addition to faculty artists such as Cheryl Cobb, Mark Gionfriddo, Adrianne Greenbaum, Linda Laderach, Catharine Melhorn, Larry Shipull, and Gary Steigerwalt.
The Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra is a fun, passionate, diverse, and welcoming community of musicians dedicated to performing a variety of musical genres through unique concert experiences in the community and beyond.
MHSO on Facebook
Flickr: Concert posters