Since 1951, the Columbus Symphony has served Columbus and central Ohio with exceptional performances and programs that engage the community with meaningful musical experiences, cultural enrichment, and unforgettable entertainment. Our quality performances serve to transport and inspire through the momentous, transformative power of music.


A Historical timeline of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra

1951: CSO founded as the Columbus Little Symphony, governed and managed by the Women's Association.

1953: Claude Monteux named Music Director; CSO Youth Orchestra founded.

1956: Evan Whallon begins his tenure as Music Director.

1960: CSO Chorus organized.

1962: CSO Pops Series begins.

1970: The newly-restored Ohio Theatre becomes the CSO's home.

1974: The CSO begins producing operas, supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

1981: CSO ceases production of opera to focus on a long-range goal to become a major US orchestra. The CSO's three-year pledge of artistic, financial & administrative support leads to the launch of Opera Columbus as an independent opera company.

1983-84: Christian Badea begins his tenure as Music Director; Picnic With the Pops begins.

1984: Maestro Badea & the CSO play a major role in the launch of the Lancaster Festival.

1988: The CSO achieves major orchestra status with the League of American Orchestras, joining the 50 largest orchestras (by budget) in North America.

1989: Release of Anything But Lonely, a nationally-acclaimed recording with Peter Nero, then-CSO Principal Pops Conductor.

1991: Alessandro Siciliani begins his tenure as Music Director.

2001: The CSO celebrates its 50th anniversary with a sold-out debut at Carnegie Hall.

2006: Junichi Hirokami begins his tenure as Music Director.

2010: CSO enters into an administrative agreement with CAPA.

2010: Jean-Marie Zeitouni begins his tenure as Music Director.

2014: Rossen Milanov named next Music Director; 2014-2015 season opens with Twisted: A Trio of Excellence, a groundbreaking collaboration with BalletMet & Opera Columbus.

2015: Rossen Milanov begins his tenure as Music Director; Youth Orchestra debuts at Carnegie Hall.

2016: “An Evening of Symphonic Hip-Hop featuring Nelly” at Picnic with the Pops attracts a capacity audience and national attention. 2016-2017 season opens with Twisted 2, in collaboration with BalletMet & Opera Columbus.

2017: The CSO wins an Experience Columbus EXPY Award for the fifth anniversary of Picnic with the Pops in the downtown Columbus Commons.

CSO History