Our History

Ruth GordonThe Cape Ann Symphony had its beginnings in February 1952,
 when Sam and Helen Gordon, an East Gloucester couple — who were both devoted amateur musicians, conceived the idea of a local orchestra, using the talents of local people. Their goal was to offer Cape Ann "the music you love by the people you know.” Beginning as a volunteer group, thirty or so individuals pooled their talents — serving not only as musicians but as a board of officers as well. Calling themselves the “Gloucester Civic Symphony Orchestra,” the orchestra delighted some 800 concert-goers on July 10th, 1952 in the high school auditorium with a presentation of Beethoven’s First Symphony.

Sam GordonFor the next 28 years, Sam Gordon presided over what soon become known as the Cape Ann Symphony Orchestra. Performances were free to the public. Any expenses not covered by Sam's constant efforts to glean support from friends and local businesses were dealt with by Sam himself, paying "out of pocket."

After Sam’s death, new by-laws were adopted in December of 1980 stating that a professional conductor, printing, music, hall rental, insurance, postage, soloists, and additional instrumentalists would all be paid for as they were in other community orchestras by charging admission to performances.

Our present artistic director and conductor, Yoichi Udagawa, came to the symphony in 2000, when he guided the Cape Ann Symphony through the celebration of its 50th anniversary to standing ovations in performance after performance. For the 2014-2015 season he has developed an exciting program in celebration of the Symphony’s 63rd anniversary.

Previous music directors and conductors were Bertram Whitman, John Murray and Armand Vorce at the Symphony’s inception, followed by Royston Nash and Kay George Roberts in the 1980’s and Richard Vanstone for nearly a decade in the 1990’s.


Today, the Cape Ann Symphony is an all-professional orchestra, evolving from all-volunteer, over many years, and with a performance level to rival any regional Symphony in the country. The quality of the orchestra is such that the organization is now working to bring Cape Ann Symphony concerts to venues throughout Boston’s North Shore, and beyond.