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, and will celebrate their milestone this August.
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.
EPSO’s rich history can be traced to 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.
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.