Our History

Celebrating 80 years!

Victoria Symphony circa 1942

Back in 1941/42 months of rehearsals led to an opening concert of the Victoria Symphony in the Empress Hotel. In these early days 23 of the 45 members were also members of the Naden Band. Music Directors included Melvin Knudsen, Hans Gruber, Laszlo Gati, Otto-Werner Mueller, Paul Freeman, Peter McCoppin and Kees Bakels. Tania Miller led the Symphony for 14 years until 2017 prior to current Music Director Christian Kluxen.

By 1977, the orchestra had a contracted core group of players and the budget increased dramatically, however financial challenges developed which continued through the 1980s. In the 1990s the organization enjoyed financial health, but after 2000, further financial difficulties developed, partly due to changing senior management.

Stability returned in 2004, and has continued since then in spite of a dynamic and sometimes challenging financial environment. Under Tania Miller’s impressive leadership the orchestra experienced growth and improved significantly from an artistic perspective. In the fall of 2017, Danish Conductor Christian Kluxen began his term as new Music Director, and has been building upon the solid foundation left by Tania with his superb musicianship and charismatic personality.

In just a short time since his arrival the orchestra has not only responded favorably to Christian’s leadership, but clearly demonstrated that they are capable of playing at an advanced technical and artistic level. This has been realized in many exceptional performances in which there is evidence of a new level of commitment on the part of the orchestra players. There is an energy, capacity and a strong desire for high artistic achievement. A new artistic bar has been created.


Highlights for the organization include a 75th anniversary national tour to great acclaim; a memorable guest artist performance with internationally renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and a guest conducting appearance by Yannick Nézet Séguin. In January 2018 the VS completed and surpassed its $3 million fundraising goal through its Artistic Excellence Campaign and just recently announced a $1 million dollar private donation, the largest in the history of the organization. The Foundation for the Victoria Symphony, an arm’s length society that stewards our investments, reported that current endowments now exceed $16 million dollars.

The Victoria Symphony employs over 60 professional musicians, 34 of whom are full-time. Their dedication and sacrifice to their art is remarkable and humbling. Not only do the musicians perform all Victoria Symphony concerts, they also make up the resident orchestra of Pacific Opera Victoria, the Cowichan Symphony Society and Dance Victoria’s annual presentation of The Nutcracker. In one season they will take their place on stage or in the orchestra pit an astounding 100 times!