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OUR STORY

The Asheville Symphony was born of a passion, formed in 1960 by a group of volunteer musicians — its early concertos filling the halls of local churches and school auditoriums. At that time, and for several years after, the Symphony had no manager and no resident conductor — only a handful of passionate performers that wished to share the classics (and their talents) with the community.

Over the next ten years, the Symphony grew both in size and popularity, adding a part-time resident manager and conductor, forming the choral and youth ensembles, creating the Symphony Guild, developing a regular season with subscription sales and introducing paid guest artists to the mix. It was during this decade that the Symphony found its home, on stage at the 2,354-seat Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, where it still performs to this day.

In the late 1970s, the Symphony picked up even more steam, paying all of its musicians for the first time, hiring its first full-time manager and, in 1980, its first full-time resident conductor, Robert Hart Baker, whose 24-year tenure dramatically increased the orchestra’s size, quality and exposure in the community. When Dr. Baker announced his retirement, the Symphony launched a search and audition process that, after two years, found a match in Daniel Meyer, who was hired as the organization’s music director in 2004. Highlights of his tenure include launching the hugely popular Asheville Amadeus festival, releasing two recordings — Asheville Symphony Sessions and Mozartistic — and bringing in international stars Emanuel Ax and Midori for performances with the symphony.

Twelve successful years later, in 2016, the process began again, as Meyer prepared to conclude his tenure with the Symphony. After launching a search that garnered nearly 400 applications and programming a season of competitive auditions, the Asheville Symphony selected Darko Butorac to lead the orchestra. Butorac conducted his first Masterworks concert as the Symphony’s new music director in September 2018.

Asheville’s arts-focused community — home to generations of writers, musicians and artists — has sustained the Asheville Symphony for nearly 60 years, embracing the orchestra’s endless creativity, artistic expression and collaborative explorations.

OUR MISSION

The Asheville Symphony Orchestra performs and promotes symphonic music for the benefit, enjoyment and education of the people of Western North Carolina.

QUICK FACTS

  • Year founded: 1960

  • Budget size: $2 million

  • Orchestra size: 70 contract musicians

  • Masterworks Series concerts per year: 7

  • Related programs: Asheville Symphony Chorus, Asheville Symphony Youth Orchestra, Asheville MusicWorks, Asheville Symphonettes, Symphony Talk, Music in the Schools

  • Signature beer: Wolfgang 1756 Vienna Lager, brewed by Highland Brewing for the biennial Asheville Amadeus festival

OUR PEOPLE

STAFF

Administration

David Whitehill
Executive Director
dnwhitehill@ashevillesymphony.org

Patron Services and Finance

Sherry Blakely
Patron Services Manager and Bookkeeper
siblakely@ashevillesymphony.org

Rayna Said

Patron Services Associate

rasaid@ashevillesymphony.org

Development

Amy McGuire
Director of Development
almcguire@ashevillesymphony.org

Claire Allen
Development Associate
cmallen@ashevillesymphony.org

Operations

Sally J. Keeney
Orchestra Manager
sjkeeney@ashevillesymphony.org

Michael Di Trolio
Principal Librarian
maditrolio@ashevillesymphony.org

Brian Garland
Stage Manager
bjgarland@ashevillesymphony.org

Youth Orchestra

Brian Garland

General Manager

bjgarland@ashevillesymphony.org

Emily Schaad

Music Director, Youth Orchestra and Philharmonia Conductor
easchaad@ashevillesymphony.org

Andrea Dennis

Chamber Orchestra Conductor

Amanda Tant

Prelude Orchestra Conductor

Dr. Brian Tinkel

Percussion Ensemble Director

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

2018-2019

OFFICERS

Doris Phillips Loomis
President

Irene Stoll
Past President

Kathleen Mainardi

Secretary

G. Edward Towson
Treasurer

George Dambach
Artistic Affairs Chair

Bolling Farmer
Governance Chair

John Donahoe
Finance Chair

Carol McCollum
Development Chair

Jack Anderson
Human Resources Chair

B.A. Schenk
Guild President

Sandra Tompkins
Chorus President

DIRECTORS

Michael Andry
Thomas C. Bolton
Gene Casey
Dr. John P. Cuellar
Nancy Edgerton
Cary Findlay
Bill Gettys
Dawn H. Grohs
Bill Hunt
Gerald C. Kitch
Barbra Love
Michael Selverne
Mary Sczudlo
Dr. James Thompson
Olivia Zahler

DIRECTORS EMERITUS

George M. Bilbrey, Jr. M.D.
J.K. MacKendree Day
Joyce R. Dorr, Ph.D.
George F. Goosmann, II
Karl S. Quisenberry, Ph.D.
John J. Sherman
W. Herbert Smith

The Asheville Symphony is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation registered in the State of North Carolina.