Orchestra History

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HistoryThe Tempe Symphony Orchestra has grown from an initial 38 performers on its roster to more than 100 musicians (the number of musicians on stage varies according to the demands of the music).

Since its founding in 1975, the main purpose of the Tempe Symphony Orchestra has been to provide musical enjoyment and continuing education throughout the adult years for the many talented orchestral musicians in the Valley who wish to participate in advanced orchestral performance activities after graduation.

In 2010, the city hired the symphony's second conductor, Douglas Akey, who replaced founder and conductor Dr. Richard E. Strange, who passed away in December 2009.

Strange was the Symphony's founding Music Director and Conductor. Dr. Strange reveled in the ability to present advanced 19th and 20th Century musical programming. His pride and passion was evident when he discussed the symphony's evolution and its future.

By actively challenging some of the best musicians in the Valley, Dr. Strange kept the members happy, interested, motivated and eager to continue their involvement with the Tempe Symphony Orchestra. Each musician strives for excellence and plays for the love of music and the opportunity to be with other motivated musicians. It was a labor of love as Strange developed, nurtured and led the orchestra.

The symphony moved into a new home, performing its first concert in the Tempe Center for the Arts on Oct. 15, 2007.

Photo: Dr. Strange and bassist Katherine Willson were original members of the Tempe Symphony Orchestra.