History

The Manitowoc Symphony Orchestra has been delighting audiences in Wisconsin and providing a creative outlet for community musicians since 1951. Orchestra members carry their passion for fine music to delicious heights through live presentations of classical works. Four concerts are performed each year, following months of intense study and many weeks of practice. The work is continuous, but our musicians are committed to excellence.

Manitowoc is the smallest city in Wisconsin to have its own symphony, and much credit is due to our first conductor, Karl Miller. The creation of the Manitowoc Civic Orchestra in 1951 was the fulfillment of his boyhood dream of becoming a conductor, nurtured by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra’s radio broadcasts. Until his retirement in 1986, Miller was the driving force behind the establishment of our symphony. He encouraged and instructed his musicians with noteworthy dedication.

Manuel Prestamo served as the next conductor, from 1986–1990. During this time, with the approval of our sponsors and the City of Manitowoc, the orchestra began charging admission. Much to everyone’s surprise — except Prestamo’s — there was an increase in concert attendance.

The orchestra’s 40th season welcomed our current music director, Wayne Wildman, whose education and vast accomplishments have contributed greatly to the growth of the Manitowoc Symphony Orchestra. Through his devoted work and personable leadership style, Wildman has succeeded in increasing both our orchestra size and its following. He contributes strong insightfulness to concert planning, featuring musical works in a wide variety of classical genres, including not only dearly familiar crowd-pleasing pieces, but also important selections that challenge both the musician and the listener. Music Director Wayne Wildman celebrated 25 years with the symphony in 2015.

The Manitowoc Symphony Orchestra is proud to have hosted many fine and gifted musical guests throughout the years, including Victor Borge and world-famous violinist Isaac Stern (in duo-recital with Yefim Bronfman). We have also hosted the Tokyo String Quartet with Pinchas Zukerman, as well as the Canadian Brass and Gary Karr, along with many other national and regional performing artists.

Our orchestra provides one of the area’s finest entertainment venues. All lovers of fine music are invited to share our joy and discover the Manitowoc Symphony Orchestra, as we carry our passion for classical music into the years to come!