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.


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


  • 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 beers:

    The Righteous and Barbaric Souls Imperial Stout brewed by Burial Beer Co. (Asheville Amadeus 2019)
    Wolfgang 1756 Vienna Lager brewed by Highland Brewing (Asheville Amadeus 2015; 2017)




David Whitehill
Executive Director

Patron Services and Finance

Sherry Blakely

Shanna Ungate

Manager of Sales and Customer Experience


Amy McGuire
Director of Development

Claire Allen
Development Associate


Sally J. Keeney
Orchestra Manager

Michael Di Trolio
Principal Librarian

Brian Garland
Stage Manager

Youth Orchestra

Brian Garland

General Manager

Emily Schaad

Music Director, Youth Orchestra and Philharmonia Conductor

Andrea Dennis

Chamber Orchestra Conductor

Amanda Tant

Prelude Orchestra Conductor

Dr. Brian Tinkel

Percussion Ensemble Director




Bolling Farmer

Doris Phillips Loomis
Past President

Mary Kirby


G. Edward Towson, II

George Dambach
Artistic Affairs Chair

Irene Stoll
Governance Chair

John Donahoe
Finance Chair

Kathleen Mainardi
Development Chair

Jack Anderson
Human Resources Chair

Sarah Van Guten
Guild President

Sandra Tompkins
Chorus President

Michael Andry
Thomas C. Bolton
Timothy Butts
Nancy Cable
Gene Casey
John P. Cuellar, III, M.D.
George Dambach
Harry Durity
Nancy Edgerton
Cary Findlay
William Gettys
Dawn H. Grohs
Sarah Van Guten
William Hunt
Gerald Kitch
Barbra Love
Carol McCollum
Mary Sczudlo
Michael Selverne
James S. Thompson, MD
Sandra Tompkins
Olivia D. Zahler
George M. Bilbrey, Jr. M.D.*
J.K. MacKendree Day
Joyce R. Dorr, Ph.D.
George F. Goosmann, III
Karl S. Quisenberry, Ph.D.*
John J. Sherman, Jr.
W. Herbert Smith, Jr.

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