From 1930 to 1937 a local musician could both play in the Indianapolis Symphony and pursue another career. In 1937, however, the Symphony began hiring full-time professional musicians only. Herman Rinne, an Indianapolis music store owner, decided he would try to fill the musical gap this left in his adopted city by forming a community orchestra like those in his native Germany. He advertised in the Indianapolis Star in September 1940 for amateur and non-professional musicians and by November 1941 he had gathered a group of 50. The orchestra practiced in the upstairs room of Mr. Rinne's music store and gave its first concert on April 28, 1941, at Emmerich Manual Training High School.
The Philharmonic Orchestra of Indianapolis was born!
For 75 years, the Philharmonic has provided Indianapolis with entertaining programs while providing local volunteer musicians with the chance to play challenging music together. Nearly 2000 musicians have played with the Phil throughout the years. Today the Phil is the largest volunteer orchestra in Central Indiana.
Throughout the years, the Phil has premiered important numbers such as William Grant Still’s African American Symphony; played a series of concerts for patients at the Central State Hospital; entertained the Star Wars Convention with a production of John Williams’ Star Wars music; hosted opera diva Angela Brown; and created a program to introduce elementary students in the Indianapolis Public Schools to orchestra music. Each year, the Philharmonic teams up with IndyParks for a free concert in an Indianapolis park.
The Philharmonic’s Symphonic Praise Choir was created in 1998 to accompany the orchestra in a presentation of gospel music to celebrate Black History month. The concert was enjoyed by the audience, choir, and orchestra so much that it is now an annual presentation.
In 1999, the Philharmonic created Strings and Jazzy Things, a tuition-free week of all-day instruction for music students 10-15 years old who would not otherwise receive such musical training. The students join the Philharmonic in the fall for a side-by-side presentation to open the new classical season. In time these students will grow up to know that lifetimes of playing music await them in community orchestras like the Philharmonic Orchestra of Indianapolis.
Made possible by the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation, Inc. and Friends of the Library through gifts to The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation.