About the ECSO


The mission of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra is to inspire, educate, and connect our communities through live orchestral music.


From 1946 – Present

The Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1946 by Norwegian immigrant, Victor Norman. The group was then known as the New London Civic Orchestra. Following frequent collaborations and a shared conductor and musicians with the Willimantic Community Orchestra, the two groups merged to form the Eastern Connecticut Symphony in 1954.

Emeritus Music Director, Victor Norman, led the orchestra for the next 35 years, a period which saw tremendous growth of the group in all facets. During this period, the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Chorus was established as well as the Youth Orchestra, both in 1967. The budget multiplied many times over as more concerts were added and eventually all musicians in the orchestra were paid professionals.

Throughout its history, the ECSO has been buoyed by a dedicated group of volunteers which has had several names in the past: the Auxiliary, the Guild, and is now known as the Friends of the Symphony. This group conducts fundraisers to support the ECSO’s mission and has its own Board and elected officers.

For more history about the ECSO, inquire by email to check out archival books such as those written by Helen Cooper and Victor Norman.

Contact us

Conductor Timeline

1946 – 1981: Victor Norman, Emeritus Music Director
1981 – 1986: George Baziotopoulos
1987 – 1998: Paul C. Phillips
1999 – 2008: Xiao-Lu Li
2009 – current: Toshiyuki Shimada

Notable Highlights

  • 1946: The ECSO was founded by Emeritus Music Director Victor Norman.
  • 1954: The ECSO merged with Willimantic Symphony Orchestra.
  • 1959: Premiere of Symphony No. 2 for Voices and Orchestra by Charles Frink, Mary Langdon, soloist.
  • 1961: The City of New London sponsored the first free concert at Ocean Beach Park.
  • 1965: The ECSO transitioned from a volunteer ensemble into a professional orchestra.
  • 1967: The Eastern Connecticut Symphony Chorus forms.
  • 1970: Institution of Marian Nevins MacDowell award for composors.
  • 1971: The ECSO’s concert series moved to Laurence H. Scanlon Memorial Auditorium, New London High School.
  • 1989: Collaborated with New London Rotary to present Itzhak Perlman in performance with the ECSO at the Garde Arts Center. Also, in 1989, presented Renee Fleming in concert, which resulted in a live recording on Centaur Records, showcasing the voice and choral works of American composer Sydney Hodkinson.
  • 2014: The ECSO commissions William Brittelle’s The Canyons Curved Burgundy and performs the world premiere.
  • 2015: Isabelle G. Singer retires after 31 years of leading the ECSO as Executive Director.
  • 2019: The ECSO co-commissions Michael Torke’s Sky, a bluegrass-inspired concerto written for and performed by rising star violinist, Tessa Lark
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