Southwest Florida Symphony celebrates 50th anniversary by recreating first concert

Posted on: February 25, 2011

In Thursday’s (2/24) News-Press (Fort Myers, Florida), Charles Runnells writes, “Arlo Deibler came to Fort Myers with his suitcases and a musical dream. He wanted to build an orchestra. Fifty years later, his creation remains a vital part of the local music scene. The Southwest Florida Symphony plays everywhere from Mann Hall to Cape Coral to Sanibel Island.  Deibler is understandably proud of his creation. He’ll be here Saturday when the symphony recreates its first concert from April 15, 1961—a concert that saw Deibler leading just 24 musicians. … Saturday’s concert showcases the same pieces in the same order: Kodaly’s intermezzo from the ‘Hary Janos’ suite, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Schubert’s ‘Unfinished Symphony.’ Current conductor Michael Hall said he couldn’t think of better music to kick-start a brand-new orchestra. … The original orchestra consisted of music students, teachers and retired professional musicians. But Deibler hated the word ‘amateur.’ ‘We like to call them ‘avocational musicians,’ he says. ‘I never liked the word ‘amateur.’ They really weren’t amateurs. They were quite good.’ Now the orchestra has about 70 professional members, plus another 100 or so chorus members.”

Posted February 25, 2011