Kaohsiung City Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1981 during Wang Yu-yun’s tenure as Kaohsiung, Taiwan mayor. At that time, Huang Hsiao-yen was the leader of the orchestra and Cheng Chao-ming served as the conductor. With the hard work of a succession of mayors, including Hsu Shui-te, Su Nan-cheng, and Wu Tun-yi, KCSO experienced steady growth. In 1986, KCSO invited former associate conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Henry Mazer to conduct the orchestra, which later on underwent expansion. And in 1991, the orchestra was renamed into Kaohsiung City Experimental Symphony Orchestra, a change from an amateur ensemble to a professional gruop. In 1993, Hsiao Pang-hsiang was appointed conductor, and in 1999, Chen Shu-Si succeeded as the General Director of the orchestra. In 2000, during the tenure of mayor Hsieh Chang-ting, the construction of Kaohsiung City Music Center was completed and the music center, standing beside the Love River, became home to the orchestra, which at the same time was officially changed into the Kaohsiung City Symphony Orchestra. In 2001, in an effort to bring together the resources from all circles, to encourage participation in music and cultural activities, and to facilitate the sustainable development of the orchestra, the KCSO Foundation of Orchestra, Culture, Art, and Education was set up and KCSO became Taiwan’s first professional performing group that is supported altogether by the foundation, government, and local enterprises.
In July 2007, in an open selection, Chu Hung-chang was elected as the general director of KCSO.
For the past few years, KCSO has been working hard to become the finest orchestra in southern Taiwan and to breathe new life into classical music. It has cooperated with several world renowned groups and artists, including José Carreras, Canadian Royal Winnipeg Ballet, British National Ballet, the Canadian “funny” soprano Natalie Choquette, Italian violin virtuoso Salvatore Accardo, Swedish guitarist of the neo-classical genre Yngwie Johann Malmsteen, US pop and classical music conductor Erich Kunzel, Argentina’s iconic musicians Alicia Terzian and Raefel Gintoli, the Chinese piano poet Fu Tsong, enowned Taiwanese violin virtuosos Lin Cho-Liang and Hu Nai-yuan. KCSO has also accompanied for local performing groups, such as Ming Hwa Yuan Taiwanese Opera, Neo-Classic Dance Company, Kaohsiung City Ballet, and Spring Wind Art Theatre. Such abundant experiences and diversified performances have brought KCSO good reputation.
Besides the thirty to forty something regular concerts during the year and performances on invitation, KCSO also gives outdoor concerts in local communities as well as mini-concerts that are especially for schoolchildren, all of which are well accepted by the public, students, and teachers. Furthermore, KCSO is active in supporting major cultural and art activities hosted by the Kaohsiung City government, such as the 2001 Lantern Festival in Kaohsiung and the 2001 Kaohsiung International Container Arts Festival. It has supported other large activities held by the Council for Cultural Affairs, including 2004 Performing Arts on Campus and 2005 Taiwan Envision Art Festival. KCSO’s enthusiasm and organization capability is considered second to none in Taiwan.
KCSO has worked to make improvements, increase activity, and raise its international profile. And in order to breathe new life into local music development in Kaohsiung and to get the general public closer to music, KCSO is active in cooperating local and international musicians and planning more guided concerts to attract more audience. KCSO hopes to become a symbol of culture that local residents can feel proud of.