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Professor Launches Rogue Valley Symphony in 1967

On Nov. 16, 1967, the Medford Mid High School auditorium rang with the music of Schubert, Bach, Bizet and Tchaikovsky, performed by the brand-new Rogue Valley Symphony.

The conductor, violin professor Frederick Palmer, had only recently arrived at Southern Oregon State College, now Southern Oregon University.  The college provided rehearsal space, sheet music and college credit for student musicians, and financial support came from the Oregon Arts Commission and Rogue Valley patrons. 

The symphony repeated the concert in Grants Pass and Ashland, where the Ashland Daily Tidings raved “there seems a happy future ahead for the newly formed orchestra.”

The symphony has grown to a fully professional orchestra of about 80 members.  It offers a five-concert season featuring a parade of well-known soloists and a holiday concert.  The current conductor, Martin Majkut, offers informative and humorous pre-concert talks. 

With continuing strong support, including a 2016 grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust, the symphony will celebrate its 50th Anniversary Season in 2017 at a time when orchestras in major cities have suffered financial reverses and labor strife.   

Sources: Kerr, Molly W. "Pass the Baton." Southern Oregon Heritage, vol. 2, no. 4, 1997, pp. 28-33; "Symphony Committee Talks Finances." Ashland Tidings, 16 Nov. 1967; Wilkinson, Carlton. "What is Killing the Orchestras of the United States." The Street, The Street Inc., 1 Nov. 2013, https://www.thestreet.com/story/12091993/1/what-is-killing-the-orchestras-of-the-united-states.html. Accessed 28 Dec. 2016; "First Concert Pleases Audience." Medford Mail Tribune, 17 Nov. 1967; "Cultural Trust awards $2.9 million to Oregon cultural organizations, RVS." Rogue Valley Symphony, Rogue Valley Symphony, 25 Aug. 2016, rvsymphony.org/news/rv-symphony-in-the-news/. Accessed 28 Dec. 2016.