WHO IS ELEGIBLE: The Lakeland Civic Orchestra is comprised of musicians of all ages and abilities, having very diversified backgrounds, from music teachers to office workers, college students, professionals and others. The orchestra is always accepting new musicians, but presently has a special need for all strings (violin, viola, cello and bass), oboe, bassoon and horn.

WHEN: Rehearsals are held on most Monday evenings from 7:30 - 9:30 p.m. during the academic calendar year. 

WHERE: Band Room (Room C-1078), Lakeland Community College

REQUIREMENTS: Sight-reading skills. Skills in ensemble performance. Most performers must provide their own instruments, and percussionists must provide their own mallets. A commitment to Monday night rehearsals and two to four performances per year.

CRITERIA: Acceptance into the Lakeland Civic Orchestra is by audition. Pleae contact Lakeland's Civic Orchestra Director for more information. 

History of the Orchestra

The Lake County Symphony Orchestra Association was founded in September, 1937, by Mrs. Lorna Nighman. At that time, the group was composed of Lake and Geauga County musicians under the sponsorship of the Painesville Baptist Church and the directorship of Mrs. Nighman.

Mr. R. A. Lake of Fairport was hired as conductor in February, 1938, and the group grew from 17 to 30 members. Mr. Lake conducted the orchestra's first concert at the Baptist Church in June, 1938. In April, 1939, the orchestra adopted the name Civic Concert Orchestra and presented its first concert in Morley Hall at Lake Erie College. Mr. Lake conducted the orchestra from 1938 through 1942.

Mr. Joseph Koch, a member of the Cleveland Orchestra, became conductor of the Civic Concert Orchestra in 1943. The group remained under his leadership until 1948 and presented many concerts during this period.

Mr. Hilbert Collins of Painesville became the conductor of the orchestra in September, 1948. It was under Mr. Collins' leadership that the annual presentation of Handel's "Messiah" was first performed with chorus and orchestra. The orchestra was reorganized in April, 1951, and at that time changed its name to Lake County Symphony Orchestra.

The Willoughby Community Orchestra was organized around 1955 as a recreational group with Charles Ruddick as its conductor. The orchestra served as an outlet for area musicians to perform, but it also provided concerts in the parks, in nursing homes and performed other service functions. Mark Woodruff served as conductor of the group following Mr. Ruddick's retirement. In 1970, the Lakeland Civic Orchestra was initiated with Curtis Petersen as conductor. Lakeland Community College was the orchestra's first major patron with the purpose of providing community service to area residents. John H. Cox was hired in November, 1972 to replace Mr. Petersen after his resignation. Mr. Cox's wide range of musical experiences included performing as a violist with the London Symphony and the Cleveland Orchestra. Robert Bergantino of Cleveland Heights was appointed conductor in 1975 after John Cox resigned to accept a position in Massachusetts. Harry Davidson, Jr. conducted his first concert with the orchestra in October, 1978. When Mr. Davidson accepted a position in Tacoma, Washington, in 1981, Peter Wilson became the orchestra's conductor until 1991. After one season of guest conductors, David Borsvald was appointed in 1992. He resigned in 1994, and Harry Davidson, Jr., who had returned to accept a position in Akron, became again the orchestra's conductor until 1998. Richard Niezen was appointed in 1999 after one season of guest conductors. When he accepted a position in Boulder, Colorado in 2000, Kathryn Harsha became the orchestra's conductor.

Among others, the following soloists have performed with the orchestra: Sergei Babayan, Margaret Baxtresser, Loretta Brundage, James Buswell, Linda Cerone, Alice Chalifoux, Michael Chertock, James Darling, Alvaro DeGranda, Harry Herforth, Joseph Howard, Boyd Mackus, Regina Mushabac, Eunice Podis, Olga Radosaljevich, Gino Raffaelli, Michael Sachs, James Tannenbaum.

The community owes much to all of the people involved with the orchestra through the years for their contribution to the cultural growth of the area.


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