The Windsor Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1941, originally as the Windsor Concert Orchestra. The name was changed to The Windsor Symphony in 1948. The first conductor was Matti Holli, who remained with the orchestra until his death in 1977. From 1977 to 1979 Clifford Evens served as interim conductor and artistic adviser. Laszlo Gati was music director from 1979 to 1985 and is credited with raising the level of the orchestra and consolidating community support.

The most recent Canadian conductor to be appointed music director was Dwight Bennett in 1986. Under Bennett, the orchestra became fully professional but also ran into financial difficulties through unrealized revenue projections and a musician's strike in 1988. He was succeeded by American conductor Susan Haig in 1991. Music director from 2001 to 2012 was American conductor John Morris Russell. During his tenure the orchestra received several awards including two Ontario Lieutenant Governor's awards for the arts. He conducted his last concert as music director on May 12, 2012.

On Feb. 26, 2013, the Windsor Symphony Orchestra announced the appointment of Robert Franz as their sixth Music Director. Franz is the third American conductor in a row to be appointed to the position. He was chosen from seven other candidates, which were fellow Americans Laura Jackson, Steven Jarvi, Kevin Rhodes and Scott Speck; Irish conductor Kevin Mallon; Canadian Erik Paetkau and Romanian Cristian Macelaru.

The Windsor Symphony Orchestra performs at several venues in the Windsor-Essex County area as well as the Chatham-Kent area.


Since the beginning of the 2015-16 season, they have been bringing many of their Intimate Classics Concerts as well as Handel's Messiah to Chatham-Kent through a partnership with St. Andrew's United Church.


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WSO IN 2022!