The Karelia Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1933. It drew the best musicians in Petrozavodsk at the time, with Leopold Teplitsky becoming the first Chief Conductor. Since then, the orchestra was directed by Konstantin Simyeonov, Karl Eliasberg, Yury Aranovich, Vitaly Kataev, Alexander Dmitriev, Feodor Glushchenko, Edward Chivzhel and Oleg Soldatov. During the 2006-7 season the orchestra held a competition for a new Artistic Director and Chief Conductor. From 2007 to 2012 the orchestra worked under direction by Marius Stravinsky.
From 1997, the Symphony Orchestra became part of the Karelian Philharmony and has quickly established itself as the largest and most important orchestra in the North-West Russia. It includes 70 musicians. The musicians are mostly graduates of the St.Petersburg and Petrozavodsk conservatoires.
In 2008 the Karelia Symphony Orchestra celebrated its 75th jubilee.
Many great musicians have performed with the orchestra: Svyatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels, Mstislav Rostropovich, Yury Bashmet, Vladimir Krajnev, Naum Shtarkman, Nikolai Petrov, Dmitry Bashkirov, Alexey Ljubimov, Michael Pletnev, Vladimir Spivakov, Dora Schwartzberg, Sergey Stadler, Igor Oistrakh, Tatiana Grindenko, Natalia Shahovskaya, Nikolai Lugansky, Denis Matzuev, Alexander Gindin, Graf Murzha, Alexey Utkin, Makvala Kasrashvili, Viktor Tchernomortzev, Ljubov Sokolova, Galina Gorchakova, Anna Netrebko, Olga Kondina, Alexander Rudin, Sergey Slovachevsky, Yury Tkanov, Peter Donohou, Evgeny Mikhailov, Andrey Diev, Sergey Antonov and others.
The ensemble has performed most symphonic mainstream works ranging from Handel and Gluck up to contemporary Karelian compositions.
The orchestra regularly play concerts in St.Petersburg and Moscow as well as other towns in Karelia. The orchestra has also performed abroad in Finland, Sweden, Germany, Poland, France, Spain and Italy.
With great success the orchestra performed in the Big Hall of the St.Petersburg Academic Philarmony during the festival "Christmas Musical Meetings in St.Petersburg" in December 2000.
The Symphonic Orchestra and the conductor Oleg Soldatov have also taken part in the First Open Radiofestival of Symphonic and Chamber Orchestras of regions of the Russian Federation, which was broadcasted by the radio station Orpheus from December 2001 until March 2002, and received an award in the nomination "For creative perusal of the composition".
The Karelia Symphony Orchestra is a regular partner of the International Art Festival White Nights of Karelia which is passing in the end of May – the beginning of June in Petrozavodsk.