The Boston Symphony Orchestra is currently in its 134th season. The orchestra gave its inaugural concert in 1881, realizing the ambition of its founder, Henry Lee Higginson, who envisioned a great and permanent orchestra in his hometown of Boston. Today the BSO reaches millions of listeners, not only through its concert performances in Boston and at Tanglewood, but also via the internet, radio, television, educational programs, recordings, and tours. It commissions works from today's most important composers; its summer season at Tanglewood is among the world's most important music festivals; it helps develop future audiences through BSO Youth Concerts and educational outreach programs involving the entire Boston community; and, during the Tanglewood season, it operates the Tanglewood Music Centre, one of the world's most important training grounds for young professional-calibre musicians. The Boston Symphony Chamber Players, made up of BSO principals, are known worldwide, and the Boston Pops Orchestra sets an international standard for performances of lighter music.
Launched in 1996, the BSO's website, bso.org, is the largest and most-visited orchestral website in the United States, receiving approximately 7 million visitors annually on its full site as well as its smart phone-/mobile device-friendly web format. The BSO is also on Facebook and Twitter, and video content from the BSO is available on YouTube. An expansion of the BSO's educational activities has also played a key role in strengthening the orchestra's commitment to, and presence within, its surrounding communities. Through its Education and Community Engagement programs, the BSO provides individuals of all backgrounds the opportunity to develop and build relationships with the BSO and orchestral music. In addition, the BSO offers a variety of free educational programs at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood, as well as special initiatives aimed at attracting young audience members.