Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra welcomes full crowd, renovated venue

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO) on Friday night, Oct. 1 played in front of a full audience for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

It was also the orchestra's first performance at the renovated Bradley Symphony Center. A new space, called The Pavilion, opened to the public for the first time, too.

There are some requirements to see a show: A negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination is required. For music lovers, it felt good to be back.

"This is a day we’ve been waiting for for quite some time," said Mark Niehaus with MSO. "This is the first time we’ve had a ticketed audience without capacity restrictions like we had all of last season."

Niehaus said MSO was expecting close to 1,500 for the first full-capacity performance. It was the first show at the Bradley Symphony Center – formerly the historic Grand Warner Theater – since the building was shut down in 1995.

"Everyone has the same experience when they walk in where they basically, their jaw drops to the ground because they can’t believe Milwaukee has a theater this beautiful," Niehaus said. "And it sounds as good as it looks."

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Bradley Symphony Center

Some details of the renovated space date back to the 1930s, including the historic theater's wall, which was moved during renovations. Other areas are brand new, like The Pavilion and the stage.

"They’re able to finally play for audiences again after the pandemic, and they’re getting to do it in this brand new beautiful space designed specifically for them," said Niehaus.

The orchestra will be playing all weekend. The next show is Saturday, Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased on the MSO website.

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