History and Mission











“Groups like the Princeton Symphony Orchestra give concerts as satisfying as any, and you don’t need refined big-city ears to know that. A good performance…is something you feel in your gut.”

–David Patrick Stearns, Music Critic
   Philadelphia Inquirer, July 2016


Since its founding in 1980, the Princeton Symphony Orchestra has evolved into a professional orchestra of the highest artistic quality. Offering orchestral, pops, and chamber music concerts, as well as lecture events, children’s programs, and innovative collaborative programming, the orchestra is Princeton’s hub for classical music knowledge and a gateway to the exploration of new music and performance practices. Through experiential, integrated programming such the PSO’s fall 2013 Migration Series Project and the recent 35th Anniversary Season celebrating the creativity of women, the PSO connects performances with themes and ideas that reinforce music’s essential role in the cultural and civic life of Princeton.

Now in his ninth full season with the PSO, Music Director Rossen Milanov continues to take the orchestra to new artistic heights. Under Milanov’s direction, the PSO is praised for offering audiences “characteristically bold” performances; “the orchestra’s impassioned interpretations are one of its key strengths, and so is the programming itself” (The Star-Ledger, 2013). Mr. Milanov firmly believes in the PSO’s mission to deliver new classical music to its audiences; “he has worked to enhance the musical experience for what he called his ‘highly intelligent, sophisticated audience here’ by weaving additional learning opportunities into the group’s concerts” (The New York Times, 2014). His concert programs frequently feature the works of living composers who are introduced to the community through residencies and pre-concert talks.

The orchestra is widely recognized as one of the region’s finest music organizations. As a cultural centerpiece of the Princeton community, the PSO regularly partners with the Princeton University Art Museum, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Princeton Public Library, The Princeton Adult School, the Arts Council of Princeton and the Princeton Garden Theatre in addition to dozens of Central New Jersey schools. The PSO has initiated additional partnerships recently with Westminster Conservatory, the community music school of Westminster College of the Arts of Rider University and the Princeton Festival in 2016 and with American Repertory Ballet in 2017.

The PSO is proud to be a three-time National Endowment for the Arts grantee and a multiple-year recipient of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts’ highest honors: a Citation of Excellence and designation as a Major Arts Institution. In June 2011, the orchestra was nationally recognized with a prestigious ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) Award for Adventurous Programming.

The PSO is a member of the League of American Orchestras, a professional organization dedicated to helping orchestras meet the challenges of the 21st century.

The Princeton Symphony Orchestra creates opportunities for people in the greater Princeton area to experience excellent, innovative live music in many forms and venues, enhancing their appreciation for music and encouraging them to engage in the art form.


To accomplish its mission, the PSO:

Presents artistically excellent performances of traditional and new classical music, bringing musicians and audiences together in an atmosphere of exploration and intimacy

Attracts and supports outstanding musical talent

Educates children and adults to build understanding and appreciation of classical music, musicians, and music making

Couples concerts with other innovative programming and produces events in partnerships with local organizations to attract a broader and more diverse audience and to enrich the cultural life of our region

Invests in the long-term sustainability of the organization, so that future audiences can benefit from having an outstanding symphony orchestra in Princeton.