The North Carolina Symphony Makes Its Debut

On May 14, 1932, the North Carolina Symphony played its first concert at Hill Hall on the campus of UNC.

Page two of the concert’s program. Image from the North Carolina Collection at UNC-Chapel HillOn May 14, 1932, the North Carolina Symphony played its first concert at Hill Hall on the campus of UNC. The concert included music by Wagner, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and others, and featured 48 musicians from around the state under the direction of conductor Lamar Stringfield. The symphony had its origins earlier that year as a work relief project of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and became the first symphony orchestra to receive state aid with the passage of what became known as the “Horn Tootin’ Bill” in 1943.

Today, the North Carolina Symphony is a first-class, professional orchestra with 65 members led by Music Director Grant Llewellyn, based out of Meymandi Concert Hall in downtown Raleigh. In addition to classical series in Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Fayetteville, New Bern, Southern Pines and Wilmington, it also features a Pops Series, Young People’s Concerts and the annual Summerfest outdoor concert series at Cary’s Booth Amphitheatre.

Always the “people’s orchestra,” the symphony has an especially strong legacy of music education, with more than 3 million school children reached since it began its children’s concerts series in 1945. Each year the symphony puts on more than 50 educational programs in nearly as many communities across the state.

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