Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra

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World War II was struggling towards its conclusion in August 1944. Despite the way the war effort put everything, including the performing arts, on hold on the home front, Seattle certified public accountant George M. Ross sought to find comfort and replenishment in music.

Ross, a talented violinist, collaborated with fellow musicians to practice the classics. They found pleasure in the continued study of music. Their gatherings became so successful that a permanent organization was proposed.

They all agreed, and the Seattle Philharmonic and Choral Society was born. The group's founding vision was to sustain a civic, nonprofit orchestra composed of fine musicians who had chosen other professional careers, and to provide a premiere venue for area soloists pursuing professional musical careers.

In its 62-year history, the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra has had four music directors, and continues to prosper. The first concert premiered in March 1945, at Seattle’s Moore Theatre. More than 100 voices joined the orchestra to complete the chorus. Seattle was introduced to a community-driven assembly of unpaid residents devoted to musical expression, education, and enjoyment.

An annual concerto event, the “Don Bushell Competition,” has become a premiere vehicle to introduce upcoming musicians; the winner is awarded a solo appearance with the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra, and receives a financial grant to assist in musical career development.

The choral division disbanded in 1964, owing to declining participation, but the rechristened Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra continued to prosper. The SPO celebrated their 60th anniversary during the 2003 season.

More than six decades after it was founded, the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra continues to thrive as an assembly of professional and non-professional performers bringing affordable performances of classical music to the community. The orchestra is still composed of accountants, physicians, teachers, and homemakers, people from all walks of life who share a love of music.

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