In 1951, area music teachers and artists were searching for an outlet for their music and began playing together in each other’s homes. By 1955 the Roseburg Symphony Orchestra Association was formed to support the orchestra and bring guest artists and orchestras to the community in response to public demand.
The orchestra became a 501©3 (non-profit organization) in November of 1975 and the Umpqua Symphony Association (USA) was born. USA began sponsoring larger concerts such as the Western Opera Theater from San Francisco), the Portland Youth Philharmonic (the oldest youth orchestra in the United States), the Oregon Symphony and the Vienna Boys Choir. Concerts also included the Mozart Players, pianist Alexander Tutunov and the Eugene Ballet performance of “Tango” conducted by Miguel Harth-Bedoya,
During this time and moving forward, the Association was, and continues to be, funded by generous private donors, grants and foundations including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Oregon Arts Commission, the Oregon Community Foundation and the Ford Family Foundation.
In 1997 local musician and teacher Jean Hinkle had a vision of starting a youth orchestra in Douglas County. Diane Penny, a local band teacher, taught violin and rehearsals began at the Umpqua Valley Arts Center with 5 students. By 2000 the class had grown to 40. Filling an urgent need the Umpqua Symphony began administering the program, writing grants and soliciting donation to purchase instruments.
USA continues to sponsor the Douglas County Youth Orchestra (DCYO) which has between 60 to 70 students each year. DCYO rehearses each week from June through September at the First United Methodist Church in Roseburg.
DCYO instructors are highly qualified and respected in the community. Dr. Mark Rockwood the Orchestra Director and Assistant Director Dr. Kathryn Brunhaver, Cello Instructor, rehearse the students as well as teach private lessons. Geri Duclos teaches the beginning class with students from 6 years of age through adult, most of whom have never even seen a musical instrument. It is an outstanding opportunity for students of all ages to learn musical skills in a nurturing environment.
Today, music is alive and well in our community with concerts offered at wineries and restaurants offering small, intimate venues.
USA has taken the lead to co-sponsor concerts with other presenting organizations such as the Eugene Symphony Orchestra, Live on Stage, Music on the Half Shell and the music department at Umpqua Community College. These combined efforts have resulted in “world class” concerts for the residents of Douglas County.
The Symphony Association and the Music on the Half Shell Committee have partnered for the past several years to bring the Eugene Symphony “Summer Pops Concert” to the Half Shell as well as “Pink Martini.” The Douglas County Youth Orchestra has been honored to “open” for these musicians, which is an incredible, once in a lifetime, opportunity for the students. USA also provides a smaller concert in either the fall or spring.
True to our Mission Statement, the Umpqua Symphony Association believes:
- That exposure to and appreciation of performing arts enriches one’s life.
- That the study of music is an important component of developing youth character.
- In the value of bringing culture to underserved rural areas.
- In providing affordable cultural experiences.
- In providing unique performance and training opportunities for local musicians.
- In the value of developing an appreciation of music in youth.
- In the value of fostering local talent.