The Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Music Director and Conductor Dr. Lonnie Klein, is a unique arrangement of faculty members, community members, and student musicians performing with world-class visiting guest artists. This select professional ensemble performs a wide variety of literature from classical orchestral repertoire. Each year the 70-member orchestra presents six pairs of Classical Concerts and two POPS Concerts.
The story of the Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra (LCSO) begins more than 50 years ago in 1958 when Oscar Butler, a vocal music professor at NMSU, gathered Las Cruces resident-musicians to perform Brahms’s Requiem. It was a rousing success in the community. In 1961, Dr. John Glowacki, the new head of the Department of Fine Arts at NMSU, merged the fledgling community orchestra with the university orchestra, forming the University-Civic Symphony.
In 1975 Dr. Marianna Gabbi became conductor of the orchestra and furthered its development in numerous ways. Under her leadership, the Las Cruces Symphony Society (now the Las Cruces Symphony Association) was formed. The Board’s initial goal was to raise money to fund student scholarships for university string players. Their task broadened to solicit financial support to bring in renowned guest artists and facilitate establishment of the Symphony subscription series.
After Dr. Gabbi’s retirement in 1999, the Board worked closely with the NMSU Music Department in seeking a successor. Dr. Lonnie Klein was the overwhelming choice.
In this 18th season under the dynamic leadership of Maestro Klein, the LCSO continues to grow in professional strength and quality, as well as in creative and innovative concert production.
Today, the Las Cruces Symphony Association (LCSA), under the leadership of Executive Director Debra Marks, its Board of Directors (Cynthia Garrett, President), staff, and many dedicated volunteers, endeavor to present and promote music of the highest artistic quality for the region’s enrichment and serve our community as a musical, cultural, and educational resource. In addition to concerts, a key component of the LCSA’s mission is educational outreach. Through such programs as Friday Night At The Symphony, which provides free passes to Friday evening Classics dress rehearsals to local 3rd – 12th grade students and NMSU music majors, the Las Cruces Symphony touches many thousands of local music students each year.
Indeed, Las Cruces has proven to be a very special place for the symphony to grow and bloom in the desert.