Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
In 1948, The St. Catharines Civic Orchestra was founded by its first conductor, Jan Wolanek. Initially, this was a community orchestra and in 1963, its governing body assumed the name St. Catharines Symphony Association. In 1978, the name was again changed to The Niagara Symphony Association to reflect regional responsibilities.
Wally Laughton was named Assistant Conductor in 1952/53. R.C. Clarke took over the orchestra for an interim period after Wolanek left in 1957. In 1958, Leonard Pearlman became the Music Director. It was under his direction that the Niagara Symphony Chorus came into existence in 1963. Milton Barnes succeeded Pearlman in 1964 and he was responsible for directing the symphony’s first opera. He also made a concerted effort to attract younger people to symphonic music.
In 1972, Leonard Atherton became the Music Director. He started the Cantata Choir and the Madrigal Singers. It was under his tenure that the orchestra became professional. When Atherton left in 1980, there were three seasons of guest conductors. The most notable of these conductors was Uri Mayer. In 1981, James Vincent Fusco was appointed as composer in residence and in 1983 Ermanno Florio became the Music Director. He retained this position until 1995 when Michael Reason took over. Daniel Swift was appointed as Music Director and Conductor in 1999 and the Niagara Symphony Orchestra became the orchestra in residence at Brock University. Laura Thomas was appointed as Associate Conductor in 2004. Daniel Swift’s resignation in 2008, began a search for a new Music Director. Bradley Thachuck was appointed as Music Director Designate and Principal Conductor in 2010. The orchestra is a fully professional, charitable institution.