P.O. Box 41882
Tucson, AZ 85717
(520) 623-1500


Brief History

The Philharmonia Orchestra of Tucson (also known as the Tucson Philharmonia Youth Orchestra) is a full symphonic youth orchestra servicing the greater Tucson metropolitan area and other communities of Southern Arizona in the counties of Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, and Cochise. The present ensemble was incorporated in 1976. The youth orchestra, however, can be traced back to 1953 when the Tucson Symphony Orchestra organized the city's first youth symphony, the Tucson Symphony Youth Orchestra.

The Tucson Symphony Youth Orchestra functioned under the auspices of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra from 1953 to 1976. & It presented two to three major performances yearly and its conductor was either the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Music Director of one of the symphony musicians. In 1976, with strong parental support, the Youth Orchestra's music director and its musicians broke official ties with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and founded the Philharmonia Orchestra of Tucson.

The Philharmonia Orchestra has existed as an independently financed and managed, non-profit 501(c)3 organization since that time. The mission of educating the young musicians of Tucson has remained consistent. The orchestra has received broad-based support from the business and private sectors over the years and has proven to be an effective, influential training ground for young, talented musicians by offering playing experiences in symphonic literature not available elsewhere.

Since the appointment of its current music director Dr. Suzette Battan in 1990, the orchestra has experienced dramatic growth and development. Because of the strong support of area private teachers and school ensemble directors and an intense recruiting effort with visits to Southern Arizona high school orchestra and bands, the Philharmonia's membership increased from forty-five members during the 1989/90 season to its current membership of over 100 musicians. A strong working relationship has been developed with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and the orchestra is now based at the Armory Park Center located in downtown Tucson, in association with the City of Tucson's City Parks and the Tucson Arts District Partnership.

The Philharmonia has earned a reputation for artistic excellence and is currently the recipient of major grants from the Arizona Commission of the Arts, the Tucson/Pima Arts Council, the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona's Igor and Mary Gorin Family Trust, and the Green Valley Concert Association. These grants provide general operating support, financing for the Artists Residency and coaching sessions by Tucson Symphony musicians, and scholarship awards and summer study grants for outstanding students. For its prominent role in the promotion of the arts, the Philharmonia Orchestra received the Arizona Music Educators Association's 1997 Raymond Van Diest Arts Advocacy Award. In 2000, The Philharmonia Orchestra became the first Arizona orchestra to present a concert in New York's famed Carnegie Hall.

The Philharmonia Orchestra plays a unique and vital role in the arts community of Southern Arizona and continues to make significant contributions to the enrichment and betterment of the community at large.

Fall Showcase, Catalina Foothills HS Music Hall, November 2017


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