The Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) is Southwest Missouri's largest regional, professional orchestra and is one of two of the oldest arts organizations in Springfield. Each Symphony season includes nine subscription monthly concerts - six classical and three pops concerts; two free community concerts - a Halloween concert and a Holiday concert; and Education & Outreach programming. Symphony musicians are auditioned, hold a lifetime seat and are paid professionals.
The SSO was founded in 1934 after a group of Springfield High School (no known as Central High School) students approached their music teacher, James Robertson, about forming a civic orchestra. With Robertson as the conductor, the orchestra performed its first concert on February 26, 1935, in Clara Thompson Hall, on the campus of then Drury College. In 1936 a Board of Directors was formed and in 1942 the symphony joined 39 other orchestras from across the country in founding the American Symphony Orchestra League. Now known as the League of American Orchestras, it is still the largest and most prestigious international body representing the orchestral industry today. Beginning with James Robertson, the SSO has had a total of eight conductors at the helm, each of whom have brought incredible, individual talents, as well as the shared desire to build a great orchestra for a great city.