Mission & History

The Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1979 and continues to bring music to Tallahassee today. The TSO is funded entirely by donations and public support to provide the community with an exceptionally high-quality orchestra.

Our Mission

The mission of the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra is to engage, enrich, and inspire people at all stages of life through great music. The TSO Board strives to create an organizational culture that recognizes and respects the humanity of our diverse community stakeholders. We are committed to achieving equity, diversity, and inclusion, focusing intentionally on organizational policies and operational practices.

Each season, the TSO presents many outstanding music events for the community. We also provide a variety of educational programs for both young and old.

About the TSO and Our History

Founded in 1979 by Nicholas Harsanyi—a student of Bartók, Dohnányi, and Kodály—the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra has long-aspired to serve our entire populace through thrilling performances, edifying educational programs, and inclusive community engagement initiatives. Harsanyi led the TSO from its founding until his death in 1987.

The TSO’s 3rd Music Director, David Hoose, served from 1994 until 2005. After 11 years at the helm of the TSO, Maestro Hoose retired, and Maestra Miriam Burns’ debuted as Music Director in 2006. As a forward-looking community, Tallahassee was proud to elect a female conductor who helped seal TSO’s reputation as one of the finest regional orchestras in the country. 

In 2013, the TSO appointed Maestro Darko Butorac, bringing a new dynamic and fresh approach to all aspects of the organization. Maestro Butorac’s highly successful 11-year tenure with the orchestra was completed in May, 2024; it was studded with artistic triumphs, a huge expansion of programming, an impactful and deeper connection to the Tallahassee community, and many personal friendships.

The TSO will be conducting the search for its 6th Music Director during the 2024-25 season. More information can be found here.  

Tallahassee is nestled in the rolling Red Hills of Florida’s panhandle. Moss-draped oak trees and stately pines give a distinctly Southern feel to this vibrant capital city, which serves as the epicenter of Florida politics. The TSO enjoys robust partnerships with Florida State University and Florida A&M University, the state’s largest and only public HBCU. The TSO regularly performs with FAMU’s stellar Concert Choir, a cherished partnership. 

An ongoing priority for the TSO is breaking down barriers to access and creating an environment of inclusivity. To this end, the orchestra offers several opportunities free-of-charge, such as open dress rehearsals, an annual Halloween Spooktacular, educational concerts that serve every 5th grader in the County, and an after school strings program at Sabal Palm Elementary. In 2014, the orchestra launched TSO Jazz, a diverse ensemble that brings together the area’s incredible jazz talent and pays homage to this uniquely American music. 

The TSO is committed to programming concerts that address social justice issues and honor Civil Rights and the Freedom Movement. Examples include a 2017 concert titled “Requiem of Resistance” that told the story of Jewish prisoners at Terezin through music and spoken word, a 2019 performance of Joel Thompson’s Seven Last Words of the in partnership with the Morehouse College Glee Club and FAMU Concert Choir, a March 2023 performance of Joel Thompson’s Walk in Dignity: A Commemoration of the 1956 Tallahassee Bus Boycott (commissioned by the TSO through an NEA grant), and an annual Freedom’s Eve Emancipation Day concert each May that is free to the public.