Our mission is to create emotion-packed, high-quality musical experiences and promote music education in and for South Central Minnesota. More than 12,000 people attend the Symphony in person and another 50,000 listen on the radio.
Our vision is to expand the audience for and appreciation of classical music in the greater Mankato area.
The current Mankato Symphony Orchestra was organized in 1950 by the local Musicians Union, the State Teachers’ College, Gustavus Adolphus College, and the Mankato Public Schools to give a concert of Handel’s Messiah. Since then the MSO has become one of the largest and most prolific arts organizations in the region. Annual programming has expanded to four concerts series providing the community with full Symphony performances, chamber music, jazz, and free family performances, as well as a massive free summer Fourth of July concert attended by thousands. In addition to performances, the MSO provides free music education for people of all ages. Our players come from all over Southern Minnesota. While many are full time professional musicians or music teachers, others earn their livings in a wide variety of professions. A love of music and performance unites the group. Music Director Kenneth directs the ensemble. The MSO has received critical acclaim from MPR, has been broadcast statewide, and was inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame in 2015.
The Mankato orchestra today is part of a long tradition in Mankato that extends back to 1925, when Harold Orvis Ross, a director of a local theater pit orchestra, organized the first symphony orchestra. Shortly after the orchestra's first concert, an editorial appeared in the Mankato Daily Free Press on January 6, 1926. "There is the Mankato Symphony orchestra, recently organized, and which was launched on what should be a sucessful career, the conditions being favorable. This orchestra has long been a dream of local musicians and now that is a reality, Mankato should not be slow to support what is a most praiseworthy undertaking. Mankato's symphony orchestra can become famous because it has the leadership and talent to make it so. It is a musical enterprise that is sure to be backed heartily be the music-loving people of not only this city but Southern and Central Minnesota. It's possibilities are widespread." Although this orchestra folded, today we are proud to carry on its spirit and tradition in out current abundance of entertaining and educational programming