History of the SSO



Founded in the fall of 1953 by the late Emil First, the original Symphony was born from of a group of very interested adults and local music students. The first public performance was held on January 13, 1954. In 1957 and for the next eighteen years Eric Woodward served as the Symphony’s conductor. During his tenure the orchestra evolved into the Sudbury Philharmonic Society as it combined orchestra and choir.

Following Woodward’s departure in 1974, the orchestra and the choir became separate entities. The choir became The Bel Canto Chorus, and the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra emerged as the newly incorporated, not-for-profit orchestra that exists today. A new mandate and mission was adopted to reflect the Symphony’s twofold commitment to music education and to public performance.

In 1975 Dr. Metro Kozak became the SSO’s third conductor, a position he held until his retirement in 1997. In 1997 Maestro Dr. Victor Sawa, a professional conductor took over the podium and held the position until 2015. Our current Music Director is Mélanie Léonard, who assumed the role for our 41st season in 2016.

The Sudbury Symphony Orchestra believes that all students in the City of Greater Sudbury should have access to music education. The Outreach and Education Program is central to the Symphony’s education and community work. The Symphony’s core musicians have a strong commitment to bringing musical outreach and education to area schools through a dynamic in-class performance program. To further this commitment the SSO Conservatory of Music was founded in 2001 and we are expanding our outreach efforts to include other members of our community.

As the SSO proudly presents its 41st concert season we extend our thanks and appreciation to the Ontario Arts Council, the City of Greater Sudbury, our sponsors, donors and most of all you, our loyal and appreciative audience for your continued support of the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra.