Albany Symphony celebrates eight decades

The Albany Symphony Orchestra got a big present for its 80th birthday this year. It was chosen to join six other orchestras from around the country to perform at Carnegie Hall as part of the inaugural Spring For Music festival in May 2011.

"It's validation of a lot of what we've been putting in place over the years. Carnegie is really a celebration of the most creative orchestras in the country, and we're one of them," said David Alan Miller, Albany Symphony music director for 17 years.

Selected orchestras were deemed "the most innovative and creative orchestras in the country" for their work on and off the stage. Albany Symphony has prided itself on embodying this for decades, and that innovation is what Miller said makes directing so rewarding.

"We think it's our core mission to serve our community, so we do with the music we play and institutions we collaborate with," said Miller. "Something we've been very proud of is outreach and community involvement. That makes me want to come back each year and involve even more people in our activities. The funny thing is, you see the public face of [Albany Symphony] in the concerts we put on, but probably 80 percent of our programs are beneath the public radar."

Miller said he's planning to find a way to get friends, subscribers and donors to New York City for the Carnegie Hall debut.

Beside putting on special themed performances throughout the year, the orchestra coordinates extensive education outreach programs at schools across the region. For its 80th season, it has collaborations with Capital Rep, Albany Pro Musica and ESYO on board, as well as concerts that will feature world-renowned classical musicians.

Miller said that he is most proud of the family concert series " the next one is March 7 at the Palace Theatre " where he dresses as "Cowboy Dave," and the orchestra's recordings, which he said give young composers a taste of fame.

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