Hugo Vianello had a vision in 1970. According to the Columbia Missourian, “Columbia could become the Nashville of symphonic music if Hugo Vianello pursues his dreams with the same vitality he has pursued his musical career. [Vianello] foresees the establishment of a multi-acre cultural center for the practice and performance of music and other performing arts in Columbia.”
After serving in the United States Air Force and being stationed in the South Pacific, Mr. Vianello studied viola at the Manhattan School of Music. Upon graduation he freelanced and performed regularly with the Knickerbocker Chamber Players, the Bell Telephone Hour Orchestra and the Radio City Music Hall Symphony. Before turning his attention to conducting, he also was an orchestra member of the Minneapolis Symphony and the New York Philharmonic and principal violist of the Oklahoma City Symphony. During this period, he toured extensively throughout the United States and includes among his credits performances in Greece, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Yugoslavia and Canada.
Mr. Vianello studied conducting with Leon Barzin, Richard Lert and Max Rudolf. He made his conducting debut with the Oklahoma City Symphony. His broadcasts on the Voice of America were beamed to Europe as part of a regular weekly feature of that orchestra. He subsequently accepted an appointment as assistant conductor of the Kansas City Philharmonic. During this tenure, he founded the Kansas City Civic Orchestra and organized and conducted the Kansas City Festival Orchestra’s annual summer concerts. Honored with the American Symphony League Conductor Recognition Award, he was selected to participate in conducting projects with the Baltimore and Cincinnati Symphonies.
Mr. Vianello left Kansas City for an appointment as music director of the Lansing (Michigan) Symphony. Concurrently, he accepted the prestigious position of Director of Orchestral Activities at Northwestern University. While in the Chicago area, he conducted National Education Television (NET) opera productions, including the American premiere of Henze’s Ein Landarzt (A Country Doctor). During this time, he regularly returned to Kansas City to conduct the Kansas City Festival Orchestra’s summer performances.
Mr. Vianello settled in Columbia, accepting an appointment as Director of Orchestral Activities at Stephens College. During this period, he and his wife Lucy founded the Missouri Symphony Society and he served as its artistic director and conductor for 28 years, until his retirement. For thirteen seasons, he concurrently held the post of associate conductor of the Kansas City Symphony. Currently, he is Conductor Laureate of the Missouri Symphony Society.
Mr. Vianello has conducted the Baltimore Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Jacksonville (Florida) Symphony, the Alabama Symphony, the North Carolina Symphony, and the Omaha (Nebraska) Symphony. He also has conducted the Orquestra Sinfonica Estados Mexico in Mexico City and has recorded with the West Coast Institute Recording Orchestra and the Missouri Chamber Orchestra.
A member of the American Society of Composers and Publishers, Mr. Vianello has had his works performed by leading American orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, the Toronto Symphony, the Kansas City and Buffalo Philharmonics, the Boston Pops Orchestra and the Kansas City Symphony. In 2006, the Missouri Arts Council honored Mr. Vianello with a lifetime achievement award for his many accomplishments in the arts. In May 2015, Hugo and Lucy Vianello were honored by the Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission for preserving and restoring the Missouri Theatre.
In 1998, Mr. Vianello retired to become Conductor Laureate. He became the moving force to save the Missouri Theatre and his contributions can be seen today in the beautiful restoration of the 1928 building. Mr. Vianello’s legacy is a vibrant symphony organization that continues to be an integral part of the arts community in central Missouri. Hugo Vianello died on March 30, 2018. He was 92 years old.