|Bremerton Symphony Association|
The Bremerton Symphony Association is an incorporated non-profit organization, which includes the Bremerton Symphony Orchestra, the Bremerton Symphony Concert Chorale, The Bremerton Symphony Youth Orchestra, The Bremerton Symphony League and The Bremerton Symphony Endowment Fund. Our mission is to further the musical development of amateur musicians and to provide a positive and viable cultural asset to the community. Our annual budget is $260,000 and we have approximately 600 full season ticket subscribers.
The BSA offers a broad spectrum of repertoire offered in three different series: Classic, Family and Chorale. We offer an excellent choice in our Education Program, which has been greatly expanded to seven programs including the Bremerton Symphony Youth Orchestra and pre-concert chats by our Maestra prior to concerts. Over our history we have commissioned new works and received the ASCAP Community Orchestra Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers in 1977. Guest soloist range from internationally recognized performers to local area talent. The BSA will long strive to challenge its talented amateur musicians and continue to self improve while providing the community with thoughtful and moving renditions of live orchestral music.
The Bremerton Symphony League is an active volunteer organization supporting the efforts of the BSA. Annually they present “Vienna Night”, the symphony’s single most profitable fundraiser. The League was be honored in 2003 at the American Symphony Orchestra Leagues National Meeting in Pittsburgh receiving the Silver Ribbon Award for their fundraising efforts. The League is also instrumental promoting our Family Concerts by assisting with pre-concert activities in the lobby for children and their families and by hosting the Artists’ Showcase.
The Bremerton Symphony Association was born at a time when history was being made. It was during the bleak years of World War II that President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a call to all Americans to make music a part of the campaign to support the war effort. Seven citizens of our community responded to this call and created the Bremerton Symphony Association under the auspices of the Bremerton Recreation Commission.
In August 1942, the Bremerton Symphony Association was formed when its Board of Directors was elected. The Bremerton Symphonic Orchestra gave its first performance on October 11, 1942 with sixty musicians under the direction of Ernest Fitzsimmons; it was free and open to the public. The budget of the first season was $700. The repertoire of this program was repeated at the 50th Anniversary Concert on October 11, 1992.
History of the Bremerton Symphony Concert Chorale
The Bremerton Symphony Orchestra and an unnamed community chorus presented Handel’s Messiah under the direction of Walter C. Welke in December, 1947. In 1948 a choral group called “The Olympians” again performed Handel’s masterpiece with the Symphony and yet again in 1949, but this time without the orchestra.
Through the mid 1950′s, The Olympians continued to function under the auspices of Olympic College, presenting major works but without orchestra. In about 1955, The Olympians disbanded and a new group called the “Puget Soundsters” was formed with the goal of performing lighter music, including pops.
Between 1955 and 1966, quite a number of choral “masterworks” were performed, some with orchestra and some without. These took place in a variety of venues (mostly churches), with a variety of sponsors (including the Peninsula Music Club and Olympic College) and under a variety of names (Community Chorus, Community Chorale, Verdi Chorus, and Olympic College Community Chorus).
In 1966, Raleigh McVicker, organist and musicologist, became involved in the musical scene of our community and led his first Messiah here, albeit without orchestra. From that period until the arrival of Maestro Joseph Levine as Music Director of the orchestra in 1983, there continued to be a variety of performances and conductors of orchestral and choral events. Upon Joe Levine’s arrival, however, the chorus became known as the Bremerton Symphony Chorale and many collaborations were presented, often twice during each concert season. Typically Raleigh would be at the helm of the choral preparation and sometimes of the performance itself. However, it was also typical that the Chorale was reconstituted for each performance event, rather than remaining a regular and stable ensemble of the same personnel through-out the year.
Upon his retirement from Olympic College in 1987, Raleigh formally turned over the Chorale to Randy Lawrence, his successor at Olympic College. Randy continued with the Chorale for a short period and was himself followed for a brief time by another leader of the ensemble whose name we are unable to identify. Joel Skellie took charge in 1990 and in 1991 the group became officially established as an associate performing unit under the umbrella of the Bremerton Symphony Association. LeeAnne Campos subsequently became Music Director in 2004.