Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra welcomes audience to new home for opening night

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Fans of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra had an extra reason to attend the season opener Friday night, Oct. 1. 

The symphony has a new home, the new Bradley Symphony Center.

This used to be Warner Grand Theatre, built in 1931. While parts of it are completely new, like the atrium, other sections remain, with a little touch-up.

"It's great to be back, especially for opening night," said Ron Schneider of Chilton, Wisconsin.

The new season's off to a wonderful start, with a red carpet entry and the Bradley Symphony Center's big debut.

"This is exciting. This is the future of Milwaukee and classical music in a magnificent setting," said Andy Smith of Brookfield.

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra is back together again after the pandemic forced them to take last year off. 

"I really missed the season last year," said Schneider. 

The new space kept the historic charm of the movie theatre that used to be here. 

"We found lots of interesting nooks and crannies in the building. On the sides of the seats we've replicated these end caps that were on the seats in the 30s, although those were torn out the seats sometime in the 60s," said Mark Niehaus, president and executive director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

What isn't old is the atrium, complete with a winding staircase. And inside the theatre, the stage is new.

"So the stage was only 15 feet deep and that was one of the biggest things we had to overcome, and transforming this into a symphony hall was how -- do we make the stage big enough for our orchestra? And the only choice was to bump the back wall out into 2nd Street," said Niehaus.

The theatre holds 1,700 people.

"World class, it's beautiful. The symphony's wonderful anyway, but now it has a home that it deserves and that we deserve to be in," said Smith.

The Bradley Symphony Center requires Covid vaccination cards or a negative Covid test within 72 hours of entering.

Masks are strongly recommended. 

Friday night's performance will be shown on PBS Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.

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