Symphony Vision and Mission

The Winston-Salem Symphony Association, Inc. (the “Symphony”) is one of oldest and most respected professional arts organizations in North Carolina’s Piedmont Triad. Started in 1946 on the campus of Salem College as a Civic Orchestra, the Symphony incorporated as a non-profit North Carolina corporation in 1952 and hired its first full-time conductor in 1955.

During the past 70 years, we have grown into a nationally recognized regional orchestra employing 75 professional musicians on a per service basis. Currently, the full orchestra performs 35-40 concerts per year. The Symphony also boasts a 120-voice volunteer Chorus and an inspiring music education program including in-school ensemble programs, young people’s concerts, an Academy for young students, and a Youth Orchestras program consisting of three youth orchestras. Education programs produce over 28,000 student encounters annually.

The Symphony is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors comprised of 40 elected and 6 ex-officio Directors. The administrative team is currently led by Merritt Vale, who has served as President and CEO for 19 years. Several advisory councils and an engaged volunteer corps provide additional support to the organization.

In comparison to other professional orchestras across the country, the Winston-Salem Symphony is in a solid position. The orchestra is recognized as an artistic leader in the region and is lauded for its high quality performances. We enjoy a loyal patron base, but also continue to expand our audiences and increase ticket sales.

The following statements guide who we are and what we do each day:


The vision of the Symphony is to touch everyone with music.


We strongly believe in the value and power of music to inspire community, build connections and serve as a catalyst for the growth and development of people in many ways. To that end, while our primary focus is musical performance, just as important is our desire to provide diverse educational experiences for children and adults that build and support the appreciation of music with all generations. Of course, we value fiscal integrity as well, so we strive to create a balance between our passion for reaching everyone in an innovative and thoughtful way and our stewardship of resources.

Therefore, our mission is to be a catalyst for an inspired community through live and innovative musical performances of the highest quality.

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This project was supported by the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources.

The Winston-Salem Symphony receives operational funding from The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County

Educational initiatives made possible with funding by Wells Fargo, The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County and The Winston-Salem and Forsyth County Schools.