The origins of the MIT Symphony Orchestra (= MITSO) date back as far as 1884 when the first MIT Tech Orchestra appeared on campus along with the Banjo and Glee Clubs. The orchestra disbanded and re-appeared several times over the years that followed until 1947, when Klaus Liepmann, MIT's first full-time professor of music and founder of the music program, became director of the MIT Glee Club, the Symphony and the Choral Society.
Nine years later John Corley (1919-2000) took over the direction of the Symphony until 1966, when David Epstein (1931-2002) became the Symphony Orchestra's music director. Under Professor Epstein, the orchestra performed at Carnegie Hall and made several LP recordings. David Epstein's tenure ended in the spring of 1998 upon his retirement from the Institute. Dante Anzolini was Music Director of the Orchestra from 1998 to 2006. Anzolini was followed by interim director Paul Biss from Indiana State University, who led the orchestra during 2006-2007 season. Since the fall of the music director of the the orchestra is Adam Boyles, former Music Director of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra.
The central mission of the MIT Symphony Orchestra is the cultural enhancement of education at MIT by promoting music performance at the highest level of artistic excellence among MIT students, by nurturing new works and young artists, by developing and sustaining the widest possible audience. The orchestra's repertoire centers around post-romantic masterpieces and twentieth-century classics as well as works by MIT composers.
The students in the MIT Symphony Orchestra come from a variety of fields including: Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, Biology, Mathematics, Brain & Cognitive Sciences, Civil Engineering, Chemistry, Physics, Aeronautics and Astronautics, Management, Architecture, and Materials Science & Engineering. Very few students at MIT actually major in music. Some students pursue double majors in music and science or music and engineering, but most students pursue music as an extracurricular activity.