Mission: To perform spectacular live orchestral music and host educational events as a means of inspiring, bringing joy and providing an environment that is enjoyable, nurturing, and inclusive for all residents of and visitors to Northern Colorado.
Vision: The Fort Collins Symphony will continue to be a source of community pride as the leading regional orchestra with an expanding audience while achieving a national level of artistic excellence.
The FCS is the oldest arts organization and the only professional symphony in Larimer County. The Symphony's roots were planted in 1923 as the Fort Collins Concert Orchestra when Editha Todd Leonard began conducting the volunteer musical ensemble. In 1948, Juilliard violinist Will Schwartz took the position of music professor at what is now Colorado State University. A year later, he revitalized the community orchestra. As his reputation grew, so did that of the volunteer ensemble. Schwartz earned the Symphony's respect, recruited extraordinary talent, and inspired a loyal following. The Fort Collins Symphony Association was formed in 1952 to provide programming guidance, personnel management, and fiscal oversight for the Symphony. The FCS began paying its musicians in the 1980s, and now employs more than 50 professional musicians.
After 50 years, Maestro Schwartz stepped down as conductor in 1999. In 2003, the FCS and CSU Music Department jointly hired award-winning conductor Wes Kenney. Maestro Kenney serves as Music Director of the Fort Collins Symphony, CSU Symphony Orchestra, and the Denver Young Artists Orchestra. He is also a guest conductor with orchestras around the world.
The FCS was honored in 2020 with the New World Report North America Business Award for Best Regional Orchestra in recognition of the organization's efforts to keep its musicians employed and the community engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
By a FCS musician:
"I just want to tell you all, thank you. Everything you have all done means a great deal to me, and I know pretty much all of us. Ever since this all began, you have all been one of the most supporting organizations that I belong to, and it has made my living situation sustainable. Without the work you have done, I have no idea where I, or my family would be. So, I just want to say how amazing it has felt to play music again with you all, and thank you, wholeheartedly for everything you are and do. You have my respect forever."
By a patron:
"I have been thinking about that beautiful concert Friday evening. Everything was perfect, the beautiful music, safe environment, cool evening with nice breeze, and beautiful setting. As I was listening to the music and looking at the surroundings, I realized that I actually felt normal." The world of the virus disappeared for me, and I was transported to a place of joy. That is worth so much, and I thank you for the evening."
Why Mary Pat McCurdie supports the Fort Collins Symphony: "Having a professional symphony in town raises the level of sophistication in Fort Collins. In addition to providing excellent classical programing, the presence of an Arts group that is exemplary in giving back to the community leads the way for other arts organizations. I see the Fort Collins Symphony as the arts group that all others look to for guidance."
According to Susan Greer: "The FCS means a lifetime of music to me. While attending my first FCS concert in 1952, I fell in love with the flute and played it for 42 years. Without that first concert, I would not have had the opportunities to be directly involved with music in the United States and Abroad, in bands, orchestras, ensembles and solos, and as a flute student and teacher. Although playing the flute was not my career or a hobby, it was a passion; it has been a part of my identity since 1952. Although I stopped playing the flute in 1994, it is only natural and rewarding for me to volunteer to help today's FCS in any way that I can now that I am retired. My life of music has come full circle: Back to where it started with the Fort Collins Symphony which is still contributing to my lifetime of music. That means the world (or a lifetime) to me."
A B Sharp participant said the following about the Fort Collins Symphony's B Sharp program for people living with dementia and their care providers: "I was blown away because my husband enjoyed it so much and didn't need to use his walker for assistance on his way out of the building. He just walked right out! The music energized him. His voice carries more life in it... I absolutely think he remembers the concert longer than other events and things we do. He can remember when the concert was and knows when concerts will be. That is something that is ingrained in his mind. These concerts are very fundamental and foundational for him.
My husband was really good at music and when we first started playing [after his diagnosis], he would get so lost. After attending B Sharp, I've noticed that he has improved so much. B Sharp is by far the best activity that we get to participate in. It is different from all of the others in the sense that I can really see how much this impacts my husband."
Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) participant
"Our last outing to the Symphony in Fort Collins was the best thing that ever happened to me! (My CASA) has shown and told me a lot of fascinating things, this show was one of those, and it got my mind on the things that were happening in the real world. Thank you for making this world a better place."