History and Mission
The Melrose Symphony Orchestral Association is the
oldest continuously performing volunteer orchestra in
the United States.
The orchestra was founded in 1918 by a dedicated group of citizens led by Frank B. Gray and Harold A. Sewall. They asked Elmer Wilson to become the first conductor. Mr. Wilson led the thirteen players who attended the first rehearsal at the YMCA. Forty-five players participated in the first concert on December 10, 1918.
Mr. Victor Friend became the first President of the “Melrose Orchestral Association, Inc.” on January 8, 1919, when the orchestra was incorporated. Ten Presidents have succeeded Mr. Friend. Former President, Millie Rich, has led the MSO through an incredible period of growth and success. The orchestra now routinely plays to sold out concerts, and it has released two CD's - one featuring Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 and the most recent featuring Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5.
The Melrose Symphony's first conductor, Mr. Wilson, was followed by the distinguished conductor George Brown who led the orchestra for 32 years. Mr. Brown was followed by Jeronimas Kacinskas, David Sonneschein, William Maloof, Christopher Blair, and Peter Hazzard. In 1997, Yoichi Udagawa, was chosen to be the eighth music director of the Melrose Symphony Orchestra.
During the MSO's long history, many illustrious names have appeared with the orchestra including Arthur Fiedler, actress Maureen O'Hara, cellist Martha Babcock, soprano Sharon Baker, jazz artist Gary Burton, baritone Robert Honeysucker, the West Point Chorus, the New Black Eagle Jazz Band, and Boris Goldovsky. Most recently, the principal bassoonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Richard Svoboda performed as soloist with the orchestra with internationally renowned musician Gunther Schuller conducting.
The mission of the Melrose Symphony is to give the citizens of Melrose and surrounding area an opportunity to participate in the joy of music. As the Melrose Symphony Orchestra is in the 21st century, its success and vitality are a testament to the invaluable and enthusiastic support it receives from the community.