The Lansdowne Symphony was founded in 1946 to provide music for the First Presbyterian Church of Lansdowne. By 1951 the orchestra had become Lansdowne’s community orchestra. Henri Elkan, a well-known musician and music publisher, served as conductor from 1955 to 1980. He initiated collaborations between the orchestra and area dance and choral ensembles and incorporated children’s concerts into the annual concert series. Elkan also featured prominent area musicians as soloists at LSO concerts.
Jacques Voois of West Chester University took over the podium in 1980. He undertook the most ambitious venture to date in the orchestra’s history: performing live at a midnight concert broadcast around the world from within the United Nations in New York, in celebration of Earth Day. This performance of the third movement of the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 with a young Russian soloist was the first time in history that a symphony orchestra performed within the United Nations.
Irving Ludwig, former violinist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, was appointed Music Director in 1991. With uncompromising high standards, he dramatically elevated the musical capabilities of the orchestra. He involved his talented family in the orchestra, featuring son Michael (later Associate Concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra and then Concertmaster of the Buffalo Philharmonic) as concertmaster for a time and also as soloist, and son Mark (violist with the Boston Symphony) as soloist. He also brought the collaboration of many of his colleagues from the Philadelphia Orchestra, including current concertmaster Herold Klein. Under Ludwig, the Lansdowne Symphony began its annual Young Artist Competition, selecting 3 or 4 talented young people to perform concertos with the orchestra each season. The orchestra also premiered a contemporary work by Massachusetts composer Thomas Oboe Lee. Ludwig instituted collaborations with the University of Pennsylvania Choir (Beethoven’s 9th Symphony performed in Philadelphia) and the award-winning Upper Darby High School Choir (Handel’s Messiah and other works), and often featured chamber pieces and concertos performed by members of the orchestra.
Widely regarded as the top local community orchestra, the LSO now offers a season of 5 concerts performed at the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center and at other area venues. Following the passing of Maestro Ludwig, the orchestra is continuing its traditions of musical excellence, service to the community, and promotion of area talent.
In late 2014, Maestro Reuben Blundell joined the LSO as the fourth Music Director in the Orchestra's 70 year history. Click here to read about Maestro Blundell.