The Wisconsin Philharmonic was founded as the Waukesha Symphony Orchestra in 1947 by Carroll College President Nelson Vance Russell as a gift to the community. Throughout its history, the Philharmonic has been considered a true community treasure creating significant cultural and educational opportunities.
This tradition began with the orchestra’s first music director, Carroll College Music Department Chairman Milton Weber. Mr. Weber immediately made his mark on the community using the Philharmonic as the vehicle to create musical opportunities for children and adults where none previously existed. Prior to the creation of The Wisconsin Philharmonic, no instrumental teachers offered lessons in Waukesha. Seven years later, lesson opportunities were available for every orchestral instrument. Scholarships were awarded to students, musicians flocked to the community to perform and teach, and the community strongly supported the orchestra through attendance at its many performances and fundraising events. In order to further support the orchestra, the all-volunteer Waukesha Symphony League was founded in 1948 to raise funding and awareness for the orchestra. Milton Weber’s vision of creating a “Salzburg of the Midwest” was well on its way to fruition!
Today, The Wisconsin Philharmonic still holds an important place in the fabric of the community. The Philharmonic performs five Masterworks performances each season and draws audience members from the six county area of Waukesha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington, Jefferson and Racine counties. Educational opportunities and scholarships remain a vital component of the Philharmonic programming.
Milton Weber 1947-1966
Irwin Hoffmann – Guest Conductor 1966
Otto-Werner Mueller – 1968-1973
Istvan Jaray – 1973-1979
Bernard Rubenstein – 1979-1980
Daniel Forlano – 1980-1994
Pasquale Laurino – Acting Conductor 1994
Guest Conductors – 1995-1997
Alexander Platt – 1997-Present