Professor Aloys Fleischmann, founder of the CSO, rehearsing the orchestra in the Aula Maxima, University College Cork in 1945
The Cork Symphony Orchestra was founded by Aloys Fleischmann (born Munich 1910, died Cork 1992), for many years professor of Music at the National University of Ireland, University College, Cork. In 1934 he formed the Symphony Orchestra for university students and local musicians with the aim of bringing classical music to Cork music lovers. The best players in the city were recruited, many of them professionals from the days of silent film, along with brass and wind players from the Band of the Southern Command. The Cork Symphony Orchestra played its first concert on 15th March 1935. Professor Fleischmann continued to conduct the orchestra and to act as chairman of the organising committee until his death in 1992.
For many years, the orchestra performed with the Cork Ballet Company in the presentation of one week of classical ballet at the Cork Opera House, as well as presenting an annual concert in City Hall. The orchestra has performed with a number of prominent conductors and soloists over the years and is still run by a committee of its members. While a number of professional musicians play with the CSO, the significant proportion of its member-base is drawn from musicians whose vocation or employment lies outside the musical sphere, coming from all walks of life, including business, education, medicine, pharmaceutical industries, technology, sporting and legal backgrounds. Some members are full-time students.
Liverpool-born Keith Pascoe, a member of the RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet, conducted the orchestra from 2004 until 2011. The orchestra flourished under his baton, with guest artists Nigel Kennedy (violin), Julian Lloyd Webber, Tasmin Little, and Barry Douglas. The orchestra also presented a concert at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall which premièred David Wallace’s Song of Cáer, and the youngest soloist to appear was 15 year old Mairead Hickey who played the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in April 2011.
Robert Houlihan conducted the CCSO in St. Mary's Church, Clonmel on Saturday, 12th November in aid of C.A.R.E. Cancer Support and he conducted the concert in the City Hall, Cork with soloist Nicola Benedetti, on Thursday, 15th December 2011.