The HPO has deep roots in Hamilton. For over a century we have brought world-class orchestral music to the Steel City with a mission of artistic excellence and music education. With help from some key individuals and institutions, the HPO has proudly contributed to the shaping of Hamilton’s cultural landscape and we think that is something to celebrate. In our 19-20 Season, we reflect on our history while also looking towards the future and how our place in the community continues to evolve.

From our humble beginnings as the Hamilton Orchestral Society with 27 amateur musicians to our official inauguration as the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra in 1949 to our emergence as one of Canada’s leading professional orchestras in the 1970s, we’ve got a lot of history to share. While our journey has not been without challenges, with the integral support of the Hamilton community and the talent of countless musicians, we continue to uphold our values of high calibre, inclusive and accessible orchestral music and education for all.

In this year of celebration and reflection, we look forward to highlighting events and individuals that have shaped our organization. Did you know that we once performed on the factory floor of Dofasco under longtime Music Director Boris Brott? Or that in 1955 the orchestra made history by appointing Olive Short, mother of celebrated Hamiltonian Martin Short, as concertmaster – the first woman to hold the position in Canada? Or that famed composer and pianist Don Shirley, who is portrayed in the Oscar-winning film Greenbookperformed with the HPO in 1974 premiering his piece Divertimento for Duke by Don? With the help of our community we will tell these and more stories from our vibrant history on our social media channels, in our concert programs and in our e-newsletter.

Check our social channels every Thursday for a Throwback (#TBT) from our vast archives of concert programs, news clippings, photos and more. Sign up for our eNewsletter to read unique stories from our history the first week of every month. You’ll also want to look through our program when attending Mainstage performances to see featured stories about people and places who have been critical to the HPO’s success.

If you have any historical items or stories related to the HPO that you would like to share, get in touch! Email