About the Hudson Valley Philharmonic

History

In 1932, four Poughkeepsie businessmen who were also dedicated string players—George Hagstrom, Sydney Fleishman, Charles T. Miller and Dr. Charles Hoffman—formed the nucleus of what would eventually evolve into the Dutchess County Philharmonic Orchestra. With Hagstrom as its first conductor, the orchestra made its area debut in 1934 with its first series of public concerts. By the 1940s, it had grown to 93 musicians.

In 1945, George Hagstrom stepped down as music director handing the baton over to Ole Windingstad, a European-trained conductor who came from the Bergen Symphony in Norway and the New Orleans Symphony. Under the direction of Maestro Windingstad, the orchestra made its New York City debut with a performance at Carnegie Hall. It was also during Maestro Windingstad’s tenure that the orchestra presented Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf narrated by former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

By 1959, Claude Monteux, world-class flutist and son of legendary conductor Pierre Monteux, had elevated the orchestra to a fully professional ensemble renamed the Hudson Valley Philharmonic Society, Inc. (HVP). Under his baton, the HVP became a prestigious regional orchestra serving Dutchess, Ulster, Orange, Rockland and Columbia counties. The first HVP Young People’s Concerts were introduced under Maestro Monteux’s direction.

Imre Pallo, formerly Director of the Deutsche Opera of the Rhein (Germany) and New York City Opera conductor, succeeded Maestro Monteux as music director in 1976. Maestro Pallo introduced the first HVP opera series in 1978, and in 1979 established a pops series modeled after the successful Boston Pops.

Randall Craig Fleischer became the HVP’s third music director during the orchestra’s 1992 season, its 33rd year. Under the leadership of Maestro Fleischer, the orchestra has become one of the region’s most important performing arts assets. Maestro Fleischer has been instrumental in broadening the orchestra’s repertoire with the presentation of works by established modern composers as well as newly commissioned pieces by up-and-coming composers. Maestro Fleischer also opened the doors to crossover performances with popular music artists such as John Cale of the Velvet Underground, Richie Havens, Kate Pierson of the B-52s and Natalie Merchant, just to name a few.

In 1998, the HVP – by this time a 40-year-old cultural jewel of the Hudson Valley – was faced with a devastating financial crisis. In order to avert the threat of bankruptcy, three regional philanthropic foundations offered to commit substantial support, provided the Bardavon would step in to reorganize. Generous grants from the Dyson Foundation, the Jane W. Nuhn Charitable Trust, the McCann Foundation, and the New York State Legislature through the efforts of Senator Stephen Saland, enabled the Bardavon to purchase the HVP’s assets and name. On June 3, 1999, the HVP officially became a Bardavon subsidiary.

Today, the Bardavon’s main challenge for the HVP is to develop and grow new audiences for classical music. The continuing evolution of the HVP Young People’s Concerts/Classroom to Concert program, which was redesigned by a Juilliard/New York Philharmonic teaching artist in 1999, is one significant way the Bardavon is working to meet this challenge. Each year, this program builds and strengthens the symphony audiences of tomorrow by providing thousands of regional schoolchildren with the chance to enjoy superb hands-on music experiences.

Today, a full season of HVP Symphony Concert Series performances can be enjoyed in an elegant setting with outstanding acoustics at the Bardavon and the Ulster Performing Arts Center— our sister stage. The orchestra also makes regular guest appearances at festival venues, such as: SUNY/New Paltz PianoSummer, and Bethel Woods Center for the Performing Arts.