In the spring of 1964, Alfred Aulwurm, a native of Oak Lawn and a violinist, teacher, and conductor of many years’ experience, approached Daniel Seyman, Oak Lawn businessman, with a suggestion for establishing a community orchestra, which he proposed to name the Southwest Symphony Orchestra. Seyman, an accomplished violinist himself, called several other persons he thought might be interested.
The Southwest Symphony Orchestra presented its first concert at Evergreen Park High School on December 4, 1964. There was no soloist, but the program followed a plan which proved popular with audiences: a major symphonic work in the first half of the program and short, lighter works in the latter half, usually ending with a medley from a well-known stage musical. Since that first concert, the orchestra has featured soloists or performing groups and has presented symphonies and a variety of overtures, suites, and medleys by well-known composers.
Concerts were given in the Evergreen Park High School Auditorium, seating 720, until the fall of 1974 when the orchestra moved to the 1,000 seat auditorium at Mother McAuley High School, 99th and Pulaski, Chicago. In 2000, we returned to Evergreen Park High School. The orchestra moved to its present site in 2001, the 1,200 seat auditorium in the Martin and Janet Ozinga Chapel at Trinity Christian College.
Following Mr. Aulwurm’s retirement in 1990, a conductor search was undertaken. In 1992, David L. Crane was appointed Music Director of the Southwest Symphony Orchestra. Now in his 19th season of guiding and shaping the SSO, Mr. Crane’s creative energy and dedicated efforts have been poured into refining the quality of performance level and expanding the orchestra’s influence in both the Chicago Southwest and the South Suburban areas.
Today, with the South Suburban population exceeding a million residents, it is hoped that, with additional community involvement and a more secure financial base, the orchestra will continue to grow in numbers and quality and to bring additional enrichment to the musical life of this area.
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