The Seattle Symphony is the largest performing arts organization in the Pacific Northwest, and a major cultural and social asset of the region. Founded in 1903, the Orchestra is recognized for its superb artistic quality, award-winning recordings, and broad-based community engagement. With an annual budget of $24m, 150 full-time employees, more than 200 volunteers, a Board of Directors of over 50, and more than 200 performances annually, the SSO is a powerful presence among Seattle's non-profit community and among America's orchestras.
The Symphony benefits from being based in Benaroya Hall, one of the most acoustically acclaimed performance venues in the United States. Shortly after the the opening of the hall in 1998, the Seattle Symphony inaugurated Soundbridge in 2001, a musical discovery center where people of all ages can explore the world of symphony music through exhibits, classes, and interactive music presentations. A major upgrade of Soundbridge, incorporating state-of-the art interactive digital exhibits, is currently in the planning stage. The Symphony's education programs bring classical music to nearly 100,000 people of all ages each year, including students at more than 200 schools in the Pacific Northwest. The Symphony recently launched two ground-breaking new programs – Family Connections, and Community Connections – which provide no-cost opportunities for young people and community members who would otherwise not have access to experience live symphonic music.