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The Columbia Festival Orchestra, a professional orchestra based in Columbia County, NY, was founded in 1988 by artistic director and conductor, Gwen Gould.

Music can be a powerful force in people’s lives. Therefore the CFO’s mission was to present classical music and other concerts to the highest degree of excellence and to cultivate an appreciation of the art of music in young people and adults. We know that this can not only enhance the quality of life and sense of civic pride throughout our community, but also serve as an economic stimulus for area businesses.

The Columbia Festival Orchestra presented concerts in many different venues in the Columbia/Berkshire region including PS21 (Performance Spaces for the 21st Century), The Shaker Museum & Library, The Hudson Opera House, North Point Cultural Center, The Spencertown Academy, Taconic Hills Performing Arts Center, area schools and churches, as well as Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood and Merkin Hall in New York City. From 1995-2003, the Columbia Festival Orchestra presented an annual Independence Day weekend Salute to America concert at the Shaker Museum and Library in Old Chatham.

Guest artists in recent years have included Amanda Boyd, soprano, Mary Hack, mezzo-soprano, Alan Schneider, tenor, Paula Robison, flute, Kenneth Cooper, harpsichord and piano, John Cheek, bass-baritone, Ani Kavafian, violin, Carol Wincenc, flute, Susan Jolles, harp, Arnold Steinhardt, violin, Lincoln Mayorga, piano and composer, Allan Dean, trumpet, Yehuda Hanani, cello, Simone Dinnerstein, piano, Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, folk musicians, Gwyneth Walker, William Perry and Sheila Silver, composers, and Peter Schickele, composer and narrator. CFO Young Artist program presented Conrad Chow, violin (2003) and Chanel Wood, soprano (2008).  CFO premiered works by American composers Sheila Silver, Lincoln Mayorga, Nancy Laird Chance, William Perry, Thomas Beveridge, and David Grunberg.

For information about our education program “Take a Seat…in the Orchestra” CLICK HERE.