How It All Started
The Abilene Philharmonic is one of Abilene’s oldest performing arts organizations, enriching the cultural life of the “Big Country” in West Central Texas. The Philharmonic’s history traces back to its incorporation in September 1950, when community supporters organized a musical group called the Abilene Symphony Orchestra. The concerts were held in the old Abilene High School, now Lincoln Middle School. The Abilene Philharmonic has an affiliated 150-member volunteer nonprofit, the Abilene Philharmonic Guild, as well as a separate nonprofit endowment board, the Abilene Philharmonic Foundation.
We provide opportunities for the public to enjoy excellence in symphonic performances by offering musical diversity and innovative educational programs in order to enrich the quality of life in our community.
In its 61st year, the Abilene Philharmonic is led by Music Director and Conductor David Itkin and is the only professional orchestra within 100 miles of Abilene, drawing audiences from more than 50 Texas cities. The Philharmonic’s first program was presented on December 2, 1950, and youth concerts were introduced to Abilene students during the 1955-56 Season.
Our 70+ professional musicians and world class music director/conductor strive to provide the Abilene community with incredible orchestral performances. The 2007-08 Season was arguably the best in our five-decade long history. We reached sellout capacity with several performances and the demand for tickets to our Christmas performance was so strong, we added a matinee.
The 2008-09 Season continued building this extraordinary momentum by showcasing a diverse group of guest artists from around the world. The demand for tickets continued as seen by our increase in single ticket sales, and our Christmas Matinee attendance attracted 2.5 times the audience from 2007-08 performance.
The 2009-10 Season was highlighted by a seven orchestra Co-Commission Premiere of “Ansel Adams: America” by Dave and Chris Brubeck, the first in the history of the Philharmonic. The premiere served as the central fixture of an arts collaboration effort to combine events and activities with a local museum, a contemporary gallery, a university honors college and music department, and an underserved youth group.
This initiative was two years in the making and set the course for a new Abilene Cultural District formation through Abilene Cultural Affairs Council. A major benefit of this event and collaboration was the opportunity for cross-marketing into other audience demographics due to the various art forms presented. This component includes the population that travels specifically to West Texas for tourism events, which generates $374 million annually in Abilene.
Our concert season consists of four Classical concerts and three Pops concerts, one matinee, one benefit concert and four Discover Music Education concerts. We also offer numerous education programs consisting of Guest Artist master classes, TicketReach free ticket program, Young Artist Scholarship Competition, Concert Conversations prior to concerts and the Conductor’s Notes and Artist Spotlight radio programs. Over 22,000 people are served annually through our concerts and education programs.