The Cambridge Symphony Orchestra is a community music organization that presents classical music for diverse audiences who value great music in an accessible environment.
Our three Masterworks concerts highlight challenging orchestral literature, performed at the highest caliber and featuring world-class soloists. The Cambridge Symphony Orchestra’s acclaimed performances over the past few years include Puccini’s Tosca in concert, collaborations with local choirs and world-acclaimed soloists on Tippett’s A Child of Our Time and Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, and a dynamic ballet partnership for Stravinsky’s The Firebird and Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, featuring world premiere choreography. Concerts specifically tailored for young people include our Holiday Pops concerts, our free Pops on the Lawn event, and our annual Family Concert featuring an exceptional young soloist.
Our overall mission since our founding in 1975 is to harness the power of music to forge lasting relationships with our community. The CSO continually invests in our community footprint through collaborations with social and cultural organizations in educational programs and spotlight partnerships. Our program of orchestral and chamber music performances at educational facilities (Perkins School for the Blind, Cambridge Community Center), assisted living residences (Youville House, Cadbury Commons), and venues at the center of cultural life in our area (MIT’s Kresge Auditorium, the Cambridge and Somerville Public Libraries, The Center for Arts at the Armory) is motivated by our commitment to deep and meaningful engagement with our community. In all of these projects, our all-volunteer roster is our greatest asset, creating outstanding programming through the combined energy of dozens of dedicated and talented individuals who believe in the importance of classical music and expanding our community’s access to it.
Cynthia Woods, Music Director
Woods drew a performance of the Suite No. 2 from Ravel’s “Daphnis and Chloe” that was fluent and well structured… easily capturing the (finale’s) overwhelming sense of drive.
(Jonathan Blumhofer, 6/17/18, Boston Classical Review)
Conductor Cynthia Woods mined the mystery from the slow passages, pulling cool smoky tones from the strings and commanding glittering climaxes from the full ensemble.
(Aaron Keebaugh, 6/19/16, Boston Classical Review)
Cheers to Woods and the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra for a … “Firebird” with nuanced hue, elevated gesture and multifaceted orchestration.
(David Paterson, 6/19/16, Boston Musical Intelligencer)
Hailed as a conductor with gusto and exuberance (Jim McDonald, Boston Musical Intelligencer) whose performances have dynamic and immersing outcomes (John Galigour, Sun Valley News), and recognized for her intelligent and out of the ordinary programming (Vance Koven, Boston Musical Intelligencer), Ms. Woods has become a recognized and respected conductor in the Boston community and beyond. The Music Director for the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra, Ms. Woods is also a frequent guest conductor, having performed across the U.S., Europe and South America. Recent engagements include working with the Pioneer Valley Symphony and Opera Southwest on their world premiere of National Endowment for the Arts Commission, Bless Me, Ultima, by Héctor Armienta.
Ms. Woods began her conducting career with a literal bang, making her debut with Stravinsky’s iconic masterwork The Rite of Spring and the massive 118-piece Worcester Consortium Orchestra. Since then she has gone on to a successful career, winning acclaim in all idioms, including opera, choral, chamber, ballet, and symphonic orchestra. She has collaborated with some of today’s great artists, including Joan Tower, Lisa Bielawa, Alexander Korsantia and Gianni Di Marco, as well as recently serving as the Music Director for Oscar winning director Morgan Neville’s (20 Feet from Stardom) newest documentary on Amar Bose. Recently, Ms. Woods conducted the world premiere of Conrad Pope’s latest symphonic work, The Little Match Girl. An icon in the Hollywood world, Pope’s credits include My Week with Marilyn and Tim’s Vermeer. She has also commissioned and performed a new ballet set to Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and looks forward to conducting the first live performance of Grammy–winning and six-time Emmy nominee Nan Schwartz’s latest work, Angels Among Us, for solo trumpet and orchestra.
Along with her conducting activities, Ms. Woods is also a frequent speaker and writer. She has been a guest lecturer at institutions such as MIT and the Longy School of Music of Bard College, a panelist for radio shows such as WGBH’s Callie Crossley, and a frequent contributor to The Boston Herald’s State of the Arts blog. She has also been featured in Boston Magazine, the Huffington Post, Boston.com, the Cambridge Chronicle, The Boston Musical Intelligencer, and Comcast Newsmakers. She was awarded a scholarship to study violin with the Grammy award-winning Takacs String Quartet at the University of Colorado-Boulder, received the Dean’s Talent Award while doing her graduate studies at the Hartt School of Music, and won a full fellowship to study composition at the prestigious Atlantic Center for the Arts. In addition to her current roles as Music Director and guest conductor, Ms. Woods is also a member of the conducting and violin faculty for the New England Conservatory.
Our Community Partners
Each year the CSO selects several local nonprofits to spotlight at a public concert. We find that, through these spotlights, both the CSO and our partner engage with new members of our community. The selected charity has a platform to speak directly to our audience and interact after the show about their mission and their needs in Cambridge/Somerville and beyond.
Past spotlight partners the CSO collaborated with to create continued awareness include:
- Cambridge Cares about AIDS (2008)
- Disabled American Veterans (2012)
- El Sistema Somerville (2015)
- Helping Hands Monkey Helpers (2012)
- Musicians’ Village, a Habitat for Humanity Katrina Relief project (2007)
- Mystic Valley Elder Services (2015)
- Physicians For Human Rights (2009)
- Project STEP (2014)
- Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (2015)
- Somerville Homeless Coalition (2015 and 2017)
- TargetCancer Foundation (2013 and 2015)
- Root Capital (2011)
- YWCA Cambridge, Shelter for Homeless Families (2009 and 2014)
At our annual Holiday Pops, we encourage the audience to bring food donations to benefit Helping Hand Food Pantry at St. James’s Episcopal Church in Porter Square, which are greatly needed during the holiday season.
The CSO is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
We are proud members of these organizations