In 1953, the Abilene Junior Service League was organized with15 ladies working together to form the Symphony League. The purpose was to support the Symphony Orchestra; annual dues were $3.00. The Abilene Philharmonic Guild was formally organized in 1954 and the membership had grown to 75. In 1961, the first Philharmonic Ball was held at the elegant Abilene Country Club; the Ball continues as the annual major fundraiser.
In 1969, the “Tempoettes’ (high school ladies) were organized. These young women have had outstanding qualifications in academics, school and community service projects, sports, music and have proven to be highly accomplished. They serve as usherettes for the concerts and have assisted with other events for the Guild. In 1955, Patty Taliaferro created the annual Discover Music student concerts. The concerts were attended by students who were in in the third grade and have now expanded to include students in grades three through five as well as special education and home school students. These students come from the city of Abilene and the surrounding big country.
The annual Ball was moved to the Abilene Civic Center in 1971 along with the introduction of the afternoon teas, for those who were unable to attend the ball and wanted to enjoy the atmosphere created by the decoration committee. The Guild has always taken great pride in being known as creating the most elegant fundraising decor of all city events. In 1973, the first Silent Auction was introduced at the annual ball. This year also introduced the members to the first Guild newsletter, The Tempo.
The year 2005 brought many “firsts.” The Tempoette name was changed to Belles and Beaus. This allowed young men of high school age to take part in the program. With structured requirements in place, equally high standards and expectations were expected. the Gold Medallion Ball I was inaugurated. Two scholarships, the Gold and Silver Medallions, begin to be awarded to two senior Belle and/or Beau.
With the creativity of the Guild members, the innovations and devotion will continue throughout future . During the last fifty –seven years, many extraordinary women in and around Abilene have worked to fulfill the mission of those first fifteen women. These enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers, along with the support of businesses, organizations and the people of the community generously contribute to the Philharmonic and stimulate interest and appreciation for symphonic music.