History of the Symphony Orchestra Guild of Decatur
The First recorded mention of a Millikin Symphony appeared in the 1906 Millikin Yearbook showing six members. By 1907 there were 24 members so it was a fast growing group.
In 1914 a Decatur Symphony was formed and had 58 musicians from Decatur playing in it. This group was short lived and disbanded in 1917. In 1926 a reorganization took place with primarily the out-of-work “pit” musicians from the silent movies forming an orchestra. Because of a change in conductors that wasn’t popular with the players this group disbanded.
Finally, in 1947 the Millikin-Decatur Symphony came into being with the mixture of students and faculty from Millikin playing along side musicians from Decatur and the Area. Several conductors came and went during the following years.
Dr. Ronald Gregory came in 1973 and under his encouragement and the interest in several townspeople the Symphony Guild was formed in 1974.
Membership in the first Guild was 400. It hovered around this figure for many years. Current membership is around 175 or so currently.
Fundraisers Make it Happen – A History of Guild Fundraising Events
Fundraisers are paramount to financing the Guild’s work. The Guild has a very active Ways and Means Committee who work to come up innovative ways to raise funds.
The Guild has a rich history of fundraising events. In past years, at least three “Symphony Balls” were held in the 70’s.
A “Medley” Luncheon and Silent Auction was held for three years. The event was one of 10 Nominated to the American Symphony League and in 1976 received the vote for the “Best Fund Raising Event” in the country from this group which was quite an honor for such a young organization!
To open the new Decatur Civic Center the Guild held “Winter Prelude” an elegant gala as the first event held in this new facility. This event was also recognized by the American Symphony League.
There have been Cooking Schools, Pops on the Lake Concerts, selling advertising space in the yearly Concert Program, Symphony of Trees that had a 20 year run and was replaced several years ago by the Symphony Holiday Ball, a Spring Bulb Sale, Spring Style Shows and of course, our yearly Guild Memberships.
Purpose of the Symphony Orchestra Guild of Decatur
The founding purpose and the current purpose have not changed much over the years. The Guild purpose is to:
1. Provide support for the Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra, both financially and with service.
2. Provide educational opportunities for young people and adults.
3. Provide scholarships for musical opportunities for students.