Our History

The Traverse Symphony Orchestra (TSO), founded in 1952 by community leader Elnora Milliken as The Northwestern Michigan Symphony Orchestra, has grown from a small group of volunteer musicians to a paid professional orchestra of 60 contracted members, with a commitment to presenting the finest in musical entertainment and quality educational programs.

In September 2001, we welcomed Music Director Kevin Rhodes, whose tenure has brought forward challenging repertoire, substantial musician pay increases, increasing use of high quality players from throughout the state, and a heralded growth in artistic quality.  While supporting a strong core of professional musicians as a regional artistic resource, the Symphony also provides audiences with the opportunity to hear quality guest artists from the national and international concert circuit.

The TSO has matured through the years, bringing about much change and growth, including a full-time professional staff, in addition to part-time staff, an active board of directors and a thriving group of volunteers.  The TSO, considered the premier performing ensemble in the northern Michigan area, is a non-profit organization supported by the community through ticket sales, donations, corporate sponsorship, and grants.

The Traverse Symphony Orchestra is one of the many cultural assets that helps northern Michigan attract tourists, other artists, new residents and new businesses to Traverse City – an area known nationwide not only for its great beauty but also for its strong commitment to the arts.

We are now entering the 71st season of the Traverse Symphony Orchestra, artistically and fiscally strong.  The staff and board of directors of the TSO are in the process of developing a long term strategic plan to identify the goals and direction of the organization moving forward.

To inquire about being added to our list of substitute musicians, contact Executive Director, Kedrik Merwin at kmerwin@traversesymphony.org.

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