The Tulare County Symphony Orchestra was organized in 1960 under the auspices of the Tulare Adult School. Robert Cole, orchestra instructor at Tulare High School, enlisted the aid of violinist Adele Luker to help find musicians interested in becoming members of an orchestra. Approximately 40 local musicians and teachers took the opportunity, with Mr. Cole conducting the new Symphony Orchestra until 1973. In 1979, after several interim conductors, Dr. Larry Sutherland from California State University, Fresno, became the orchestra’s conductor. The 1985-86 season brought the arrival of Dr. David Andre as conductor and artistic director. The Symphony Orchestra has been under the baton of Dr. Bruce Kiesling since 2009.
For the first 25 years, the conductors received modest compensation from the Adult School, but the musicians were not paid. The first General Manager was hired in 1987. The orchestra now consists of approximately 80 musicians, an Executive Director, a personnel manager, a music librarian, and a liaison to the Association’s Board of Directors.
The Tulare County Symphony League was also founded in 1960 as the Tulare County Women’s Symphony League. The objective of the League was to introduce and educate the community with regard to symphonic music, to support the orchestra in ticket sales and promotion, to provide refreshments of the orchestra members, and to provide scholarships to string students.
Fundraiser have helped support the orchestra and the League’s music education programs. The League’s promotion of symphonic music education has expanded to include the Young People’s Concerts in Visalia, Tulare, and Porterville; the Junior Youth Symphony, Junior Strings, and the Young Artist Competition. The League also supports After School string programs at Roosevelt School in Tulare and Crowly School in Visalia, and the Youth Symphony, led by Michael Tackett.
In 1995, the organization’s name was changed to the Tulare County Symphony League, and it encourages membership by all who are interested in symphonic music. Now in its 57th year, the League continues to serve the needs of the Symphony and to expand its education program to help young musicians. League members attending the Preview Meetings are rewarded with performances from the guest artist and a concert overview by the Music Director. It is the League’s goal to continue to support the Sequoia Symphony Orchestra, music education, and the community for many years to come.