History

The Little Orchestra Society/Orpheon, Inc. (LOS), now in its 66th year, is dedicated to presenting groundbreaking classical music performances for all New Yorkers, as well as dynamic music education and community engagement programs in New York City public schools and communities.

Founded in 1947 by Thomas K. Scherman, LOS has remained a pioneer of innovative music from its founding days to its 32 years under the direction of Dino Anagnost, and continues to innovate under the leadership of world-renowned conductor James Judd, who took the helm in 2013.

The Orchestra has had many important American and World premieres that have launched and celebrated the careers of major musical talents. Past American premieres include: Intermezzo, Daphne and Horn Concerto No. 2 in E Flat Major by Richard Strauss; L’enfance du Christ and Béatrice et Bénédict by Hector Berlioz; Sir Michael Tippett’s Concerto for Piano ; and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Concerto for Bass Tuba in F Minor . World premieres have showcased the talents of composers Morton Gould, Alan Hovhaness and David Diamond, among others. Our professional recordings include Dvorak’s Legends Op. 59 ; William Mayer and Susan Otto’s Hello World , narrated by Eleanor Roosevelt; and Prokoflev’s Peter and the Wolf , narrated by Dom DeLuise and nominated for a Grammy Award in 1991.

The Orchestra’s highly regarded Lolli-Pops ™ series for children ages 3 to 5, and the Peabody Award-winning Happy Concerts for Young People for children ages 6 to 12, have entertained generations of New York families. The common thread running through all LOS concerts, whether for adults or children, is a special focus on creating memorable music experiences, often complemented by other artistic disciplines, including dance, animation, narration and puppetry. For example, this season LOS presented acclaimed performances of Stravinsky’s Firebird that featured masterful puppetry by director/designer Chris Green, choreography by David Neumann and lighting design by Clifton Taylor.

Our repertoire has included works from the early Baroque to commissions by American, Latin American and European composers, as well as jazz, blues, folk and other music that has inspired our audiences. Guest artists have played an important role in the history of the Orchestra, including jazz aficionado Benny Goodman, contralto Marian Anderson, violinist Isaac Stern, baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and bluegrass legend, composer and violinist Mark O’Connor. Recent guest artists have ranged from the iconic rock legend Patti Smith who narrated Tubby The Tuba and Academy-Award nominated actress Sigourney Weaver who narrated Music Takes Flight , to violinist and composer Daniel Roumain who gave the New York premiere of his Woodbox Violin Concerto in Music Under the Big Top , the Orchestra’s first concert in the ring at the Big Apple Circus at Lincoln Center.

The 2013-14 season marks the start of James Judd’s role as Music Director of the Orchestra. Mr. Judd is an internationally acclaimed conductor and educator—an artist of outstanding versatility. This season, LOS will present, among other works, The Composer is Dead , with music by Nathaniel Stookey and book by Lemony Snicket. In 2011, Daniel Handler, the author and creator of the popular book series, chose LOS to debut this important work for New York audiences, and he narrated this premiere performance himself. This season will also feature a new production of the beloved tale Hansel and Gretel with music by Engelbert Humperdinck and new book by Craig Shemin. Both programs will be performed on the grand stage at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center.

Once again LOS will present its Musical Connections program in New York City public schools. Expertly led by experienced teaching artists, this unique program will be further enhanced by the addition of James Judd’s passion and commitment to music education. In addition, LOS will continue providing New Yorkers with its Project 65Plus and Live In Concert! programs that guarantee accessibility to classical music for everyone—including underserved communities.