Muncie Symphony Orchestra


The History of the Muncie Symphony Orchestra

The Founding (1949)

I. Began from the College Community Orchestra founded by Claude E. Palmer, which itself was launched in the 1930s

II. First two concerts held by Dr. Robert Hargreaves in 1949

III. Governing Board of Directors was appointed for the Muncie Civic and College Symphony Association (1950)

IV. 1949-1950 season saw the orchestra renamed as the Muncie Civic and College Symphony Orchestra

V. First concert held in Ball State University's Assembly Hall on March 31, 1950. This concert was a near sellout, and this concert was preceded by the orchestra's first children's concert in the afternoon for around 1,100 school-aged children. The repertoire performed for this concert was: Brahm's Second Symphony in D major, Debussy's Nocturne No. 2: "Fetes," Robert Braine's "Lazy Cigarette" from the Suite of Choreographic Impressions, and Eric Coates' London Suite

The Hargreaves Era (1950 – Spring 1982)

I. Organization's name was shortened to Muncie Symphony Orchestra, which it remains today

II. Developed relationships with the National Federation of Music Clubs, which effectively gave birth to the MSO's long-standing Young Artist Competition

III. Emens Auditorium was completed in Spring 1964, and became a regular venue for the MSO. The MSO's first concert in Emens Auditorium took place on April 14, 1964 and featured the internationally known violinist Tossy Spivakovsky

IV. In May 1967, the MSO gave a milestone performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony with the combined Ball State University Choirs and Indianapolis Symphonic Choir. This performance featured Soprano soloist Ilona Kimbrink, Contralto soloist Inez Hackman, Tenor soloist John Campbell, and Baritone soloist Jack (Jacque) Trussel

V. Robert Hargreaves was honored for his 20 year tenure at Ball State University. Edmund Haines was commissioned to compose Scenario for Orchestra in honor of Robert Hargreaves. The piece was performed by the MSO in April, 1968.

VI. The MSO gave a performance featuring the Boston Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler at the opening concert in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the MSO

VII. Dr. Arthur Hill, assistant conductor of the orchestra, was appointed for the 1974-1975 season while Dr. Hargreaves was away on academic leave

VIII. Arthur Fiedler returns to conduct the orchestra at the opening concert of the 1977-1978 season

IX. Doc Severinsen appears with the MSO for the 1980-1981 season opener. 1980 also marked the beginning of the MSO's annual Symphony on the Green (now called Festival on the Green).

X. Dr. Hargreaves' final concert is conducted in April 1982 featuring Verdi's Requiem

The Atherton Years (1982 – Spring 2003)

I. Leonard Atherton was named conductor of the Muncie Symphony Orchestra in the spring of 1982, beginning his joint position with the orchestra and as a Ball State faculty member in the autumn of that year.

II. Atherton's first concert was given in October of 1982, and featured Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 in C Major, as well as Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique

III. MSO featured a performance conducted by Maxim Shostakovich, son of Russian composer Dmitri Shostokovich, in early 1983

IV. Atherton and the MSO Board of Directors approves a separate mini-series of family concerts to be sold separately from the classical series concerts. This system was instigated to mitigate falling ticket sales, and remains in place to this day. This change to the concert format also included an opening pops concert as well as pops concerts interspersed throughout the season to help bolster ticket sales

V. MSO's longstanding "Music on the Move" educational program was founded in 1984 with the appointment of both a woodwind quintet and a string quartet to perform concerts in area schools.

VI. A programming board was appointed in early 1988 to work with Mr. Atherton to develop a concert program of popular music to perform each season according to the desires of season ticket holders

VII. Atherton's Season format included: an opening concert featuring a major performing artist or pops program, 3 pops or family concerts, and 5 classical programs that often highlighted a soloist from the orchestra

VIII. The MSO celebrated it's 40th anniversary on March 31, 1990 by providing a performance on the exact date as it's first concert. This concert celebration included: Susan Starr performing Saint-Saens' Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 2 in G minor, as well as a return of repertory from the MSO's first concert including Eric Coates' London Suite as well as Brahms' Symhony No. 2 in D major.

IX. The MSO founded the annual Minnetrista "Picnic and Pops" concert in 1991.

X. The MSO was active in performing new works throughout the 1990's including: Pellegrini's - Memorie, Scylla and Charybdis, and Michael Schelle's - Spirits.

XI. Atherton celebrates his final year, as well as his 20th anniversary with the MSO, in the 2002-2003 season