About Us

MISSION STATEMENT: A professional orchestra serving northern Michigan bringing unprecedented excellence in symphonic and other musical experiences.

VISION STATEMENT: To be a cultural model for the region, exciting a diverse and growing audience through artistic excellence, strong leadership and sustainable operations.

The Traverse Symphony Orchestra is northern Michigan’s leading regional performing arts ensemble. It is a professional, part-time orchestra with a core base of quality musicians from throughout the area. Many hold music-related positions as faculty and staff members of nearby Interlochen Center for the Arts and regional school districts. An increasing number of musicians travel from as far as Lansing, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor to perform with the orchestra.

Music Director Kevin Rhodes has led the orchestra to critical acclaim during his 20 year tenure. Under his leadership, the orchestra has created an innovative season of concerts featuring leading guest artists from the national and international circuit.

2020-2021 Season

Like all performing arts organizations, the Symphony’s upcoming 2020-2021 season has been deeply impacted by ongoing COVID19-related public health concerns.

Chamber Concert Series
The artistic centerpiece of our upcoming season will be a series of 6 concerts featuring chamber ensembles led by Maestro Rhodes. Seating at these concerts, held in Traverse City at the First Congregational Church, will be carefully socially distanced. The concerts will be audio and video recorded for online distribution so that members can enjoy them exactly when and as often as they wish. Free admission; live stream available.

Symphonic Concerts
The TSO will also perform four ticketed concerts: an intimate Home for the Holidays with very limited seating in December, broadcast live on Interlochen Public Radio, and three large outdoor pops to light classical concerts in June, July and August 2021!

Pop Up Concerts
Performed in unexpected spaces throughout the Grand Traverse Region, these free and fun events are designed to support our community and introduce TSO musicians to new audiences.

Pop-up TSO Brass Quintet:

  • Sept 1: Old Town Play House Tent @ 7p
  • Sept 2: Front Street, in front of Cherry Republic @ noon

Online Performances
For some of our musical family the best way to enjoy the professional performers of the TSO is in the comfort and safety of their own homes. We will continue to update the website with musician videos and concert recording archives. New, premium online content featuring Maestro Rhodes and musicians from the TSO will be an exclusive member benefit. Click here for more information on joining the TSO as a Supporting Member!

Original Traverse Symphony OrchestraPictured above: 1952; the original Traverse Symphony Orchestra. Elnora Milliken was the Concertmistress.


The Symphony is comprised of a full-time professional staff of two, a part-time staff of three, a music director and 60-plus contracted core musicians. An 11-member Board of Directors and a committed group of volunteers provide ongoing support for the organization. The Symphony is a non-profit corporation supported through memberships, ticket sales, donations, corporate sponsorships, and grants.

The orchestra was founded in 1951 by Traverse City violinist Elnora Milliken as a community amateur ensemble. It evolved into a professional regional symphony under the direction of Maestro Kevin Rhodes.

Educational Programs

The Traverse Symphony Orchestra is more than an orchestra. We offer three educational programs that afford enriching musical experiences to 4,000 children and students annually.

  • The Civic Program offers students of all ages opportunities to work with professional musicians in string ensembles tailored to skill and experience levels.
  • Several Family Concerts are presented free each season. They delight children and their families by making classical music and musicians readily accessible with a lively, fun and interactive experience.
  • The TSO in the Schools program offers day-long instrument workshops focusing on woodwind, brass, string and percussion instruments. Workshop clinicians are musicians from the professional Traverse Symphony Orchestra as well as guest artists from throughout the state of Michigan.

GuideStar 2020 Silver Seal of Transparency

Traverse Symphony Orchestra GuideStar Profile

For assistance, please contact Executive Director Kedrik Merwin at 231-947-7120 or kmerwin@traversesymphony.org.



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