Orchestra History


A Short History of The Bucks County Symphony Orchestra

1953 - Two groups of local musicians place an ad in The Intelligencer inviting any musician in the area who is interested in playing in an orchestra to come to Central Bucks High School band room for a trial run.   Conducting is Vernon Hammond, Director of the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia.  The purpose of the orchestra is "to bring good music well performed to the people of the area at a price which makes it available to everyone; to provide a place for the many fine amateurs and retired professionals in the area to perform; to promote musical education programs for the young people of the area."

March 1954 - "A rousing ovation was received by the members of the Bucks County Symphony and their conductor-director, Vernon Hammond, at its initial public performance Saturday night in Central Bucks High School." - Daily Intelligencer.

1958 - First Children's Concert sells out with many children and their parents being turned away.  Children up to 6th grade are invited - ticket price, 50 cents.

1960's - The Concerto Competition for young music students in the area is inaugurated, with winners performing at Children's Concerts next season.  In addition to four concerts a year, the orchestra starts a tradition of festive galas and musicales.  The Bucks County Commissioners proclaim Bucks County Symphony Society Week "lauding the symphony for its progress since its beginning and the importance it plays in the musical and cultural life in Bucks County."

1975 - The first annual Pops Concert is held at the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa.

1978 - Vernon Hammond and the Symphony are named recipients of the Bucks County Arts Award presented by the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce.

1980 - Vernon Hammond retires as conductor and music director after 27 years in the post.

1982 - Karl Middleman is appointed music director and conductor after a two-year search.  He inaugurates the Bucks County Symphony Composer's Competition to encourage composers to write music that nonprofessional musicians can play and enjoy.

1993 - Rosalind Erwin, a Doylestown native, is appointed music director and conductor.  During her tenure, Maestro Erwin markedly increases the exposure of elementary students to the Orchestra.

2002 – The Bucks County Symphony appoints Gary S. Fagin music director and conductor to launch its 50th season.  Under the baton of the popular and talented Maestro Fagin, the orchestra achieves a new level of musical brilliance.

2012 - To celebrate Maestro Fagin’s 10th season with the orchestra, the Bucks County Symphony collaborates with the Bucks County Choral Society in a dramatic performance of Beethoven’s monumental Ninth Symphony.

2014 - The Bucks County Symphony receives an award from the Arts & Cultural Council of Bucks County in recognition of 60 years of outstanding service in the Performing Arts.