About the Northwest Symphony Orchestra

The Northwest Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1987. Since that time, the orchestra has received local, regional, and national acclaim, having been featured several times on National Public Radio and once on NBC’s Today Show. Music Director Anthony Spain and the NWSO have recorded five CDs (including two on the KOCH and Albany labels of New York). These CD’s have been highly praised by sources including the American Record Guide “…sound is beautiful, playing excellent and Fanfare ... first class orchestra…This is a first class production all around Melinda Bargreen of the Seattle Times has described Dr. Spain and the Northwest Symphony Orchestra performances as “…strong, committed impassioned performances.” Shard a CD of music by Michael Nicolella with the NWSO and Anthony Spain conducting, was voted CD of the month in the June/July 2006 issue of Guitare Classique in France.


The mission of the NWSO is to be the premier orchestra in performing and promoting the music of contemporary northwest composers while also performing, and educating, the public in the full spectrum of classical music.

Commitment to Northwest Composers and to the community

The NWSO’s commitment to northwest composers is unparalleled, first coming to national attention in 1996 with a mention in a front page Wall Street Journal article regarding up and coming arts groups.  In its last season, the NWSO reached the milestone of performing 150 works by local northwest composers in its history.  This strong commitment to local composers in the northwest has garnered several prizes, including a first place national American Prize in 2017, and eight national ASCAP (American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers) awards for “Programming of Contemporary Music” (Three first place national awards in 2012, 2007 and 1994, one second place national award in 2001, and four third place national awards in 2004, 1998, 1996, 1993.

The NWSO has performed with a variety, and eclectic mix, of internationally known artists including Alice Chains, Imogen Heap, Anne and Nancy Wilson of Heart, Joshua Roman and Natalie Cole. The NWSO's home and base of operations is the Highline Performing Arts Center in Burien, and the Highline School District, where 63.9% of the students are considered below the poverty line. The NWSO receives funding from 4 Culture, as well as from the cities of Burien and SeaTac.