Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra

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The Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, founded in 1958, is a fully professional orchestra based in Boulder, Colorado. It is the successor to the Civic Symphony Orchestra, and it is directed by Michael Butterman. The Boulder Philharmonic’s season includes classical, Pops, and family concert series, as well as an annual “Nutcracker” performance with the Boulder Ballet.


The Early Years: 1893-1957[edit]

While the Boulder Philharmonic was founded in 1958, its roots begin in 1893 as a small group of Boulder musicians calling themselves the Philharmonic Club started performing an annual concert that gradually grew in popularity. In 1941 the Civic Symphony Orchestra was founded as one phase of a recreational program in a plan adopted by the city council. Hugh McMillen, director of bands at the University of Colorado at Boulder conducted the first free orchestra at Boulder High School auditorium, a tradition that would continue in 1943 and 1944. The loss of personnel due to WWII, however, would cause the orchestra to disband.

The “Renaissance” Years: 1957-1972[edit]

Violinist Elinor Winchester and volunteer musicians revived the orchestra in March 1957. Thomas Facey, conductor of the Golden Symphony, served as musical director. During this time the orchestra was an ensemble made up of amateurs as well as a few professional musicians from the Boulder-Denver area. In 1958 Facey resigned and Dr. Antonia Brico was named conductor. Pianist, graduate of the University of California Berkley, and the first woman to conduct the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Brico saw developments such as the Young Artist Competition in 1959 and the inauguration of the Children’s Concert in 1960.

Brico resigned in 1964 and Ador Toth, CU Boulder associate professor of music and conductor of the university symphony orchestra, was named her successor. Toth requested a leave of absence in 1965 to tour with the Alma Trio, and invited his CU colleague, David Burge, to take over as conductor for the 1965-66 season. Burge was named permanent conductor of the Boulder Philharmonic after his first year.

In 1966 the Boulder Philharmonic Guild was founded. The purpose of the guild was to be an “auxiliary dedicated to assisting with the maintenance of the orchestra with service as well as with financial means.” That same year the organization started a spring plant sale which was a fundraiser that took place each year. In 1967 the orchestra received a grant from the Colorado Council on the Arts and Humanities, and in 1970 the Jr. Guild was founded. This group sponsored a flea market, a spring Philharmonic ball and Symphony Sunday at which time local downtown merchants shared Christmas sale profits with the orchestra.

Aside from a one year sabbatical to Copenhagen (during which James Stroud took over as conductor), Burge’s tenure would last until 1972, when he joined the faculty at the Eastman School of Music, and Oswald (Ozzi) Lehnert, violin virtuoso and professor, was named conductor and music director of the Boulder Philharmonic.

The Lehnert years: 1972-1996[edit]

Under Lehnert, the Boulder Philharmonic saw many developments, such as new fundraising campaigns, free concert series, and a Tier II status from the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District. Also, during this time the Orchestra moved to Macky Auditorium, at the University of Colorado in Boulder. In 1990 the Boulder Arts Academy was founded as a community school under the direction of the Boulder Philharmonic.


Between the years 1996 through the present, the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra would become fully professional. In 1996 Theodore Kuchar was named music director of the Boulder Philharmonic, who founded the Sinfonia of Colorado, a classical chamber orchestra made up of Philharmonic musicians in 1997. In 1999 the Boulder Philharmonic became a part of an alliance organization called the Peak Association of the Arts, also known as PeakArts, which also included the Boulder Ballet, Sinfonia of Colorado and the Boulder Arts Academy. In 2001 Robert McAllister was named CEO and president of PeakArts, and in 2003 this association dissolved into two entities: Boulder Arts Academy / Boulder Ballet and the Boulder Philharmonic. 2003 would also be the year that Sue Levine was hired as the executive director of PeakArts.

Michael Butterman is currently the Music Director for both the Boulder Philharmonic and the Shreveport Symphony. He is also on the conducting staff of the Jacksonville Symphony and the Principal Conductor for Education and Outreach with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra celebrated its 50th anniversary with its 2007-2008 season.


Music Director:

  • Michael Butterman

Violin I:

  • Gregory Walker: Concertmaster
  • Annamaria Karacson: Assistant Concertmaster
  • Willemien Meyer
  • Gyongver Path
  • Debra Holland
  • Malva Tarasewicz
  • Alice Vermeer
  • Yenlik Bodaubay
  • Michelle Davis
  • Desiree Cedeno-Suarez

Violin II:

  • Leah Mohling: Principal
  • Takanori Sugishita: Assistant Principal
  • Sue Levine
  • Sarah Delevoryas
  • Lori Walker
  • Miriam Linschoten
  • Regan Kane
  • Azi Vieira


  • Pamela Vliek: Principal
  • Elizabeth Saddle
  • Olga Shylayeva


  • Olga Shylayeva


  • Sarah Mellander: Principal
  • Susanne Sawchuk


  • Michael Yopp: Principal
  • Devon Park: Associate Principal
  • Jeff Rubin
  • Stuart Mock


  • Stephanie Zelnick: Principal
  • Bronwyn Fraser
  • Karen Dusek

Bass Clarinet:

  • Karen Dusek


  • Charles Hansen: Principal
  • Kim Peoria
  • Wendy LaTouche


  • Mary Harrison: Principal
  • Summer Rhodes: Assistant Principal
  • Nancy McNeill
  • Claire Figel
  • Colin Garner
  • Aniel Caban


  • Charles Lee: Principal
  • Marcelo Sanches: Assistant Principal
  • Elenore Wells
  • Anne Brennand
  • Yoriko Morita
  • Sara Fierer
  • Shirley Mock
  • Georgia Blum
  • Karen Terbeek


  • Dale Day: Principal
  • Nan Lou Brown
  • Brock Chambers
  • David Crowe
  • Sean Kelly
  • Brian Knott
  • Bob Orecchio


  • Mark Hyams: Principal
  • Ken Aikin
  • Roberta Goodall


  • Johanna Rubsam: Principal
  • Danielle Chollet
  • Pete Vriesenga


  • Michael Allen: Principal


  • Doug Walter: Principal


  • Hiroko Okada: Principal
  • Paul Mullikin: Assistant Principal


  • Kathleen Wychulis: Principal


  • Arthur Olsen: Principal


Ruth Carmel Kahn. “50 years with the Boulder Philharmonic.” Boulder Philharmonic Program Book. 2007-2008.

External links[edit]