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New Bedford Symphony Orchestra

Mission & History

The mission of the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra is to place the world’s finest music at the center of the cultural life of the South Coast community. The NBSO enriches the lives of adults and children through the transforming power of great music, performing concerts at the highest level of professional standards and providing educational programs for children and listeners of all ages that deepen their enjoyment and understanding of music and make it a part of their daily lives.

The history and mission of the NBSO begins with its founder, Clarence Arey. In 1915, Mr. Arey, a gifted musician and teacher, established the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra to provide high quality performances of classical music for his community. Mr. Arey also created the first public high school orchestra program in Massachusetts. When the New Bedford High School Orchestra performed at the annual Massachusetts Superintendents Conference in 1913, superintendents from around the state were so impressed with the quality of the performance that many of them returned home and quickly established orchestra programs in their school systems. Soon, almost every high school in Massachusetts boasted a student orchestra. Mr. Arey’s dual devotion to a Symphony Orchestra presenting high quality performances of classical music for its community and a music education program opening the world of classical music to young people remains the heart and soul of the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra.

The NBSO’s governance and management approach is rooted in strategic planning. Over the last fourteen years, the NBSO has completed four strategic plans. Each plan was developed to cover a three to five year time frame with the recognition that it is best to renew the process every three years. With this underpinning of strategic planning, the NBSO has experienced unprecedented growth. During this time period, the NBSO’s budget has grown by a multiple of ten, the number of concerts presented has more than doubled, and educational programs have gone from serving 2,000 children annually to 25,000. The NBSO is a 501( c)(3), tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation. It is governed by a Board of Trustees made up of volunteers who live in the South Coast region.