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 five classical concerts each year, including the February Gospel Concert. 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 to learn about the music being presented.

The Philharmonic continues its unique role as Indianapolis’ community orchestra by advancing music education throughout the city. Recently, the Phil has played an annual side-by-side concert with the Warren Central High School orchestras. Members of the orchestra donate a weekday morning to perform for 900 fourth-graders as part of the Pike School District’s LEAP program. The Phil has also played at Broad Ripple High School as part of the Black History Celebration. Since its founding, many talented area students have played with the Philharmonic. Over the years, the Philharmonic has awarded more than 500 scholarships to high school members to support their music education.

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 became an annual presentation. The Symphonic Praise Choir is a pillar of the Phil’s family and performs independently as well as with the orchestra.
The choir was featured at the Springfield Ohio Arts Festival.

In 1999, the Philharmonic created Strings & Jazzy Things, a tuition-free week of all-day instruction for music students 10 to 15 years old. This program is attended each year by more than 100 budding musicians who would not otherwise receive such musical training.

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