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About the Boston Landmarks Orchestra

The Boston Landmarks Orchestra, founded in 2001 by Maestro Charles Ansbacher, was created to make GREAT orchestral music available to ALL Bostonians through FREE, innovative performances in locations of special significance.

In 2007, the orchestra began performing at the underutilized Hatch Shell on Boston’s Esplanade. In the summers since, the Landmarks Festival at the Shell has established itself as Boston’s newest tradition, with audiences exceeding 60,000 people per season. The orchestra is committed to maintaining Boston’s reputation as a world-class destination. During the summer, much of the city’s cultural activities diminish, but through the Festival at the Shell, the city maintains its position as a cultural capital and center for tourism.

Maestro Ansbacher died in the autumn of 2010. With the support of his wife, Ambassador Swanee Hunt, the trustees assumed the full mantle of responsibility for the orchestra. They unanimously chose Boston native Christopher Wilkins to carry on the orchestra’s mission as Music Director. His clear commitment to Ansbacher’s core values of artistic excellence, community engagement and inclusive programming were evident this past summer.

Artistic excellence is the hallmark of the Boston Landmarks Orchestra. Boston Globe critic Matthew Guerrieri wrote: “The point of the Boston Landmarks Orchestra is to make classical music not just in the city, but part of it, as much a soundtrack as the traffic, the T rattling across the Longfellow Bridge, even the New England weather.”

The orchestra is committed to breaking down barriers for people with disabilities, by offering sign language services, Braille and large print programs at concerts, and special drop-off and pick-up points on the Esplanade. The orchestra has also expanded its volunteer program and it is fast gaining resonance with both the young and the young at heart.

Building community through culture is a part of the orchestra’s DNA. To further underscore its importance, Christopher Wilkins has identified his 20/20 Vision: “By the year 2020, the Boston Landmarks Orchestra will provide all residents of Boston’s 20 diverse neighborhoods opportunities to be involved in its programs both at the Hatch Shell and in the neighborhoods.”

The orchestra will launch its vision in 2012 by:

  • Assembling a neighborhood community choir to perform on Opening Night.
  • Partnering with the Villa Victoria Center for the Arts for performances in the South End.
  • Collaborating with environmental organizations to host concerts with themes about preserving and protecting natural water resources.
  • Soliciting volunteers from all 20 city neighborhoods to help at concerts.
  • Continuing to have John Hancock MLK Summer Scholars serve as stage crew.
  • Engaging public summer school students in classrooms and at the DCR’s Hatch Shell.
  • Implementing musician residencies at summer youth programs.
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