Mission & History
The Dallas Chamber Symphony exists to engage community audiences and enrich people’s lives by sharing in the discovery, creation, exploration and enjoyment of great music.
Artistic Director Dr. Richard McKay envisioned a flexible chamber orchestra of 40 players to complement existing classical music options in Dallas. In 2011 he founded the Dallas Chamber Symphony (DCS), the city’s only elite professional chamber orchestra. The ensemble is now a cornerstone of the Dallas Arts District, having built a strong reputation for providing the public with a full season of high-quality, imaginative concerts, and a robust suite of educational and neighborhood outreach programs.
The orchestra’s subscription series showcases six concerts a year of standard concert and contemporary chamber orchestra repertoire. Concerts regularly feature world-class soloists and world premieres of DCS-commissioned works. The orchestra serves thousands annually and has earned “Best of” Awards from the Dallas Morning News, Dallas Observer, and D Magazine.
Responding to societal trends and local need, McKay and his team developed the TechNotes Youth Education program (concerts and digital curriculum focusing on Title One schools, est. 2013), UnSilent Film Series (screenings of classic, silent movies to new scores in concert, est. 2012), and Sight of Sound Film and Music Festival (screening of new independent films to classical music in concert, est. 2014) and the Dallas International Music Festival and Competition (est. 2012).
In 2015 the DCS began “Taking It to the Streets”, through a citywide creative placemaking initiative designed to expand service to people where they live, work, learn, and heal, engaging underserved audiences at the Bridge Homeless Recovery Center, Dallas County Juvenile Department, Boys and Girls Clubs, Catholic Charities Centers, local schools and hospitals, and at community venues including the Katy Trail and Exall Park. Local businesses, parent-teacher associations, the City of Dallas Office of Arts and Culture, Dallas Foundation, King Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, TACA, and the DCS board and donors underwrite costly but popular free-to-attend outreach concerts for audiences who are not likely to engage with subscription performances due to economic hardship, mobility, or health issues.
In 2020, the DCS was awarded the Distinguished Arts Organization Obelisk by the Business Council for the Arts.