EPSO celebrates its 89th Anniversary

The longest continuously running symphony in the state of Texas!

 Opens season with The Music of ABBA “Dancing Queen”

 El Paso, Tex - As the oldest performing arts organization in El Paso and the longest continuously running symphony orchestra in Texas, the El Paso Symphony Orchestra (EPSO) has spearheaded cultural activities in El Paso for 89 years. To celebrate this significant milestone, EPSO will open the season dancing to ABBA’s greatest hits at its 89th Anniversary Gala on Friday, August 23, 2019, 6pm at the El Paso Country Club, followed by a concert on Saturday, August 24th at the Plaza Theatre, 8pm, featuring The Music of ABBA performed by the El Paso Symphony Orchestra, full rock band and vocalists.

Tickets for the gala and concert are on sale now at www.epso.org, or call (915) 532-3776. In addition, tickets for the Saturday concert can be purchased at www.ticketmaster.com.

EPSO’s rich history traces from a performance in December 1893. There were at least eight other attempts to bring symphonic music to El Paso before an orchestra was officially established in 1931. In the initial performance on January 26, 1931, H. Arthur Brown conducted his first concert with the El Paso Symphony at the Scottish Rite Auditorium. Brown remained as conductor until 1951.

Since then, EPSO has been under the baton of six conductors. In 1951, young Italian violinist and conductor Orlando Barera took over the podium for the next 20 seasons. The 41st consecutive season of the El Paso Symphony opened in October 1972 with William Kirschke leading for the next three seasons. On March 24, 1975, the El Paso Symphony Orchestra Association appointed native son Abraham Chavez, Jr. as the new Music Director and Conductor. Gürer Aykal succeeded Maestro Chavez in 1992.  Sarah Ioannides became EPSO’s first female Conductor in 2005. Following a 2-year search, Bohuslav Rattay was named EPSO’s Music Director starting with the 2013-2014 Season.

Since its inception, EPSO has made downtown El Paso its home, performing at the Scottish Rite Auditorium, Liberty Hall, Abraham Chavez Theatre and currently in the historic Plaza Theatre.

Today, EPSO is the largest arts nonprofit in the region, employing over 200 people per performance. It attracts 90,000 annually to its programs, which extend beyond the stage. It has presented and performed with renowned artists Yo-Yo-Ma, Wynton Marsalis, Tito Puente and Celia Cruz, Tony Bennett, Juan Gabriel and the Bolshoi Ballet to name a few.

EPSO acknowledges the rich diversity in our community and seeks to include people from every part of our community through varied concerts and events like the annual Pop Goes the Fort concert, with an audience of over 20,000; and sold-out performances of pops concerts with a rock twist, like the “Classical Mystery Tour” and “The Music of Queen.”

With a strong commitment to education and outreach, EPSO reaches over 40,000 children and students in the region every year. The longest-running EPSO education program, the El Paso Electric Young People’s Concerts, entering their 80th year this season, have introduced more than 750,000 5th grade students to live classical music in a fun, energetic and interactive environment. EPSO’s Brass in Class and Strings in Schools programs have been a presence in the classroom for over 40 years.

EPSO’s principal education program, the El Paso Symphony Youth Orchestras (EPSYOs), is celebrating its 14th anniversary. EPSYOs serves over 300 students annually and is open to all orchestral musicians ages 7 -23. EPSYOs continues to grow and serves its members’ diverse musical interests with programs like the Concerto Competition, the Chamber Music Program and a week-long Summer Camp. Students rehearse on weekends throughout the school year, with four schedule performances. In addition, EPSYO musicians participate in performances at the Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, Alamo Drafthouse and with artists such as The Piano Guys and Lindsey Stirling.

The El Paso Symphony Orchestra’s Tocando Music Project is an after-school program that currently provides music learning and performance opportunities to students in elementary through middle school. Students enjoy weekly classes, bi-monthly visits to the El Paso Museum of Art, UTEP Career Days, out-of-town overnight trips to week-long Summer Music Camps, and tickets to each EPSO Classical Concert for themselves and their families.  Students perform concerts at their home schools as well as various venues throughout the community and city including the Plaza and Chavez Theaters.

Tocando Music Project launched in September 2013 at Hart Elementary in downtown El Paso. In 2017, the Feeder School Initiative, Tocando has expanded to Guillen Middle School. Tocando now has students from 3 schools in Bowie High School’s feeder pattern: Hart and Aoy Elementary and Guillen Middle School. Tocando is supported through the PlayUSA initiative of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute and a generous grant from the American Orchestras’ Futures Fund, a program of the League of American Orchestras made possible by funding from the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation.

With a strong belief and commitment from EPSO’s Board of Trustees, conductor, musicians, staff and our community, EPSO will continue to flourish and create beautiful music in our culturally rich city,

The El Paso Symphony Orchestra is supported in part by the City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department, the Texas Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

89 Years and Going Strong!