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Mission & History

The mission of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Indianapolis is to present classical music at affordable prices, feature soloists in masterworks and new compositions, conserve the abilities of volunteer musicians of all ages and occupations and aid young people to appreciate and perform great music.

When music store proprietor and percussionist Hermann Rinne founded the Philharmonic Orchestra of Indianapolis, he chose the name to differentiate his new group from the professional Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Rinne’s vision was to create a first-class orchestra that would provide the many accomplished volunteer musicians in the community with a place to play great symphonic music. His first call for musicians resulted in 13 players, but an article in the Indianapolis Star caused the ranks of his fledgling orchestra to swell. The orchestra presented its inaugural concert on April 28, 1941.

The orchestra currently presents four classical concerts each year, including the February Gospel Concert, at the Pike Performing Arts Center on the Pike High School campus. During the summer, IndyParks hosts the Philharmonic in a free concert in Garfield Park. Prior to each classical concert, the conductor presents Listen & Learn, an opportunity for the audience to meet the musicians and learn about the music being presented.

The Philharmonic continues its unique role as Indianapolis’ community orchestra by advancing music education throughout the city. As the orchestra in residence at Pike High School, the Phil plays an annual side-by-side concert with the Pike High School orchestras. Members of the orchestra donate a weekday morning to perform for 900 fourth-graders as the culminating event of the Indianapolis Public Schools’ “Listen Up!” program. Over the years, the Philharmonic has awarded more than 500 scholarships to high school members to support their music education.

In 1999, the Philharmonic created Strings & Jazzy Things Music Camp, a tuition-free week of all-day instruction for music students 10 to 15 years old. This program is attended each year by budding musicians who would not otherwise receive such musical training. Students also participate in leadership development and community service activities.

The Symphonic Praise Choir was created in 1998 to accompany the orchestra in a presentation of gospel music in celebration of Black History Month. The choir and the orchestra and the audience appreciated the energy of gospel music blended with the complexity of symphonic music so much that the gospel concert is part of the annual classical concert series. The Symphonic Praise Choir is a pillar of the Phil’s family and performs independently in Indiana and neighboring states as well as with the orchestra.

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