History


           Performing to over 7,000 people at Symphony Under the Sky 2011 © Merrissa Karmark

Long before Regina had gained its status as a city, the cultural arts were beginning to flourish. As good fortune would have it many of Regina's early settlers, including members of the North West Mounted Police, were talented musicians and vocalists. However, that talent needed the stimulation provided by Scottish immigrant Franklin L. Laubach. One can only wonder what would have happened had Laubach's original plans to be a farmer not fallen through.

Upon realizing that farming was not for him, Franklin Laubach moved with his family to Regina, where he turned his attention back to his original career in music. By 1904 he had organized the Regina Philharmonic Society and in 1906 conducted Haydn's Creation at Knox Church with a chorus of 67 voices and an orchestra of 13 musicians. By 1908 the Orchestral Society was formed and its inaugural concert was presented in the City Hall Auditorium on December 3rd of that year. Laubach continued to work tirelessly organizing many music events until 1915 when, at the age of 59, he joined the Canadian army. He returned to Regina after WWI and resumed his former role of conductor with the Philharmonic and Orchestral Society which, by 1919, had been reorganized into the Regina Choral and Orchestral Society.

The evolution of the orchestra continued when in 1923 the Regina Choral and Orchestral Society became the Regina Symphony Orchestra, the Regina Choral Society and the Regina Male Voice Choir. However, the orchestra's concert programs continued to read "Regina Orchestral Society" until 1970, when it changed to "Regina Symphony" and finally in 1976, 52 years after the motion was made to change the name, it became the "Regina Symphony Orchestra”.

Darke Hall, on College Avenue, was formally opened in 1929, giving the orchestra its first home after years of playing in various buildings in the city. The orchestra continued to perform through the 1930's - the toughest years on the prairies - and throughout WWII with musicians performing primarily as volunteers, receiving honorariums only when there was a financial surplus. 

The period between 1959 and 1981 was that of steady growth for the orchestra. This was due to several significant changes during that time. The first was to the status of the Regina College to that of University. The University expanded its Music Department and hired first rate musicians as instructors. This allowed the orchestra to start building its professional group. As well, public funding increased during the late 1960's to the early 1980's and the orchestra's home moved to the Centre of the Arts (now Conexus Arts Centre) in 1970, which allowed the audience to grow from 750 people per concert to over 2,000.

Today the Regina Symphony Orchestra is a full scale, fully professional orchestra that, in a 39 week season, presents a pre-season outdoor concert, 8 Masterworks concerts, 5 Pops concerts, 2 family-oriented concerts, 6 double chamber concerts, and occasional special concerts including perennial favourite Handel’s Messiah. As well, the core members (RSO Chamber Players) put on dozens of school concerts each season; ‘run out' concerts in South Saskatchewan communities; and free concerts in venues throughout the city of Regina. They also take part in educational activities aimed at students and First Nations youth.

The Regina Symphony Orchestra plays an important role in the cultural fabric of Southern Saskatchewan. By continuing to strive for excellence in performance and by remaining relevant to its audiences, the orchestra will continue to grow and to enrich life in Southern Saskatchewan. The RSO organization will persist through the dedication, and determination provided by the RSO Executive Director, Music Director, Board of Governors, and Musicians. With the support of the orchestra's audiences, sponsors, government and corporate partners the Regina Symphony Orchestra will be performing long into the future.