Page 3 - A short history of the Oak Ridge Symphony Orchestra
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History of the Oak Ridge Symphony 1944–2004
Meyer D. Silverman
Hans Heinsheimer once declared that the cultural arts were indispensable for a city's health and growth. He had visited Oak Ridge at Waldo Cohn's invitation in 1947 because he wanted to see a town where the culture was home-grown, not supplied by outside (i.e. visiting) artists, especially in music.
The founding of the Oak Ridge Symphony Orchestra (ORSO) began in such a way, from quartet groups in late 1943 to a string symphonette in June 1944 and a symphony by November 1944. The prime mover in this endeavor was Waldo Cohn, a biochemist and avocational cellist. He had performed with several string quartets, organized the symphonette and was instrumental in organizing the members of the Wind ensemble, the Community Band and the string symphonette to form ORSO.
The first concert was performed in the old High School which was located on Kentucky Ave. in the Jackson Square area. When the new High School was built in 1951 on Providence Rd., the orchestra moved there for its rehearsals and concerts. Waldo Cohn became its first conductor in 1944, and he held that position until 1955 when he left to go abroad on a Guggenheim Fellowship. Anthony Raisis, the symphony concertmaster, was selected to succeed Waldo as the symphony's conductor. The symphony has had twelve conductors up to the present time. No one has

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