The Philharmonic Society of Arlington: Now In Our Eighth Decade
The organization began as a community symphony orchestra in the fall of 1933 and presented its first concert, conducted by Leonard Wood, in January 1934. In its early years the Orchestra combined forces with the community chorus, high school chorus, and Friends of the Drama to present two annual concerts. The group adopted its current name, the Philharmonic Society of Arlington in April 1940. Leo Litwin was the conductor who followed Leonard Wood. By 1957 Paul Bauguss conducted both the Orchestra and Chorus in four concerts each year, including Messiah and a Pops concert.
John Bavicchi became conductor of the Orchestra and Chorus in 1968 and continued in that role until 1980, when he relinquished the job of Orchestra conductor to Walter Pavasaris, who served 33 years in that role. Today Music Director Orlando Cela wields the baton.
In 1973, the Arlington Philharmonic Chorus merged with the Belmont Chorus, which was also led by Maestro Bavicchi, to form The Arlington-Belmont Chorale. The Arlington-Belmont Chamber Chorus, composed of Chorale members, was also established in that year. When Mr. Bavicchi retired from conducting the chorus in 2003, our current Chorale Music Director, Barry Singer, took over as Chorale and Chamber Chorus conductor. Over the years a number of people have served as assistant conductors in the Philharmonic Society, among them the recently retired Orchestra Assistant Conductor James Russell Smith and the newly appointed Assistant Conductor of the Chorale, Sarah Telford.
The Philharmonic Society of Arlington now presents eight concerts a year by its three performing groups, the Arlington Philharmonic Orchestra, the Arlington-Belmont Chorale, and the Arlington-Belmont Chamber Chorus.