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Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

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Biography

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra is a North American orchestra based in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Orchestra was founded in 1930 by Ferdinand Schaefer, a local violin professor. In 1937, Fabien Sevitzky was hired as the Orchestra’s first music director, as the musicians became fully professional, paid a weekly salary for a 20-week season. The orchestra quickly ascended to national prominence, appear on the NBC and Mutual Radio networks beginning in the late 1930’s, and issuing a series of phonograph recordings on RCA in the 1940’s and early 1950’s.

In 1956, Izler Solomon ascended to the post of music director. The orchestra toured nationally, and produced a series of international “salute” concerts. This series won a US State Department Award.

John Nelson took over the orchestra in 1976, and established the orchestra’s present home at the Hilbert Circle Theatre in downtown Indianapolis. Nelson brought the ISO back to the airwaves on NPR and PBS, as well as frequent concerts in Carnegie Hall and at the Kennedy Center. He also took the orchestra on its first-ever foreign tour, to Germany in 1987.

Nelson was followed by Raymond Leppard in 1987. Under Leppard’s direction, the orchestra began a 52-week season, and made a series of recordings on the Koss Classics label. A weekly syndicated radio series was also begun, “Indianapolis On The Air”. Although, the ISO is produced by WFYI in Indianapolis. It is currently one of only 18 American orchestras that perform year round.

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