Organization Bio, Facts & Finances

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Bio, Facts & Finances
Strategic Plan
Music Director
Conductor Laureate

The Symphony has been a vital part of Tacoma’s cultural landscape since 1946, and has operated as a professional symphony orchestra for the past 20 years.   With 80 contracted musicians and an affiliated community chorus, the Symphony brings music into the lives of 15,000 citizens annually throughout the South Puget Sound.

The Symphony presents classical, pops, choral, the Mini Maestros series for children ages 2-8, as well as master classes and educational concerts each season.  Its flagship education program, Simply Symphonic, earns the accolades of educators.

Our values are founded on two tenets.  First, live orchestral music is  compelling and essential to community quality of life.   Second, we have an organizational imperative to reach across demographic barriers to attract and engage people, young and old.

This is typified by the relaxed, informal atmosphere at our concerts.  The Symphony provides regional audiences with a “user-friendly” opportunity to hear great live orchestral music at home — without traveling to Seattle, Portland or further afield.

  • I took my two sons and three nieces because I want them to have the experience of going to the symphony. They were enthralled.” – Symphony attendee

The core music of the Symphony’s concert offerings is the great Classical orchestral repertoire. This magnificent and powerful body of music has inspired generations for hundreds of years. However, the orchestra also performs Jazz, Rock, World Music, Broadway, Video Games, and even Country. Our musicians play all of these styles with the same professionalism and delight.

Education is intrinsic to the Symphony’s mission, and the award-winning Simply Symphonic program is our most significant educational offering. This year, the Symphony is joining over 70 other orchestras across the globe as a new Link Up partner orchestra, in an expansion of its popular education program Simply Symphonic. “The strength of the Link Up program is that students are given the opportunity to be active participants in making music.  Few other art forms provide the opportunity to participate collectively, which is a special magic of music,” says Music Director Sarah Ioannides.  In this day and age, children have few opportunities to experience a live symphony orchestra.  For many, Simply Symphonic marks their first exposure and their first time ever at the Pantages Theater in downtown Tacoma. The resulting impact must be seen to be appreciated.

  • “The children could not stop talking about how much they enjoyed it.  I am confident that this experience made them fans for life.” – Symphony attendee

As part of this new arrangement with Carnegie Hall, participating schools will receive up-to-date curriculum guides for each teacher (featuring lessons on singing, playing the soprano recorder or violin, reading and notating music, and composing and improvising music) with an accompanying CD and DVD, as well as workbooks for each student.  The Symphony recruits local teachers and students for participation and provide professional development workshops and direct support for participating local teachers, as it has for Simply Symphonic’s nearly two-decade tenure.

  • “The Pantages is an intimate theater setting, where you get up close and personal – like having an orchestra in your living room.” – Symphony subscriber

We make our home at the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts (BCPA) in downtown Tacoma. Concerts frequently include visiting guest soloists, but our primary featured artists are our own professional musicians who live and work in the South Sound region. Thus, virtually all of the Symphony’s $1,000,000-plus annual budget is returned to enrich the regional economy.

The Symphony offers deep ticket discounts to students and, in collaboration with The United Way of Pierce County, free tickets to the economically challenged. Hundreds of tickets are donated annually to other area not-for-profit and community organizations to support their charitable auctions.

Governed by a Board of Directors of 18, the Symphony has made significant inroads in diversifying revenue streams and creating greater long-term sustainability. Every Board member makes a leadership gift, subscribes to the concerts, and participates in fund raising.

Most Recent Operating Revenue Snapshot


Interesting Facts

  • * The Symphony’s 80 musicians are paid professionals who perform in other regional ensembles and as soloists, as well as teaching at academic institutions and privately.
  • * The Symphony begins rehearsing for a performance five days in advance and holds a maximum of four 150-minute rehearsals for each concert.
  • * Musicians are chosen by blind audition, in which  they perform behind a screen for an audition committee that includes the music director and members of the orchestra.
  • * When a position in the orchestra becomes vacant, the Symphony advertises nationally for musicians, and may receive hundreds of applications from across the U.S.

Judson Scott, Asst. Princ. Trumpet
Dane Gregory Meyer photo