The West Valley Symphony Association believes that everyone deserves to live in
a culturally rich and diverse community with access to a great variety of arts.
Our mission is to provide opportunities for all residents to experience classical music.
History of the West Valley Symphony Association
On December 15, 1968 in the Town Hall South Auditorium, now called Mountain View Auditorium, in Sun City, residents gathered for the first performance of the brand new Sun City Symphony Orchestra. Nearly 1,000 patrons, a capacity crowd, enjoyed the performance under its founder and conductor, Jennings Butterfield. The performance consisted of musicians from the Sun City Community, which was then just eight years old, along with professional musicians from the Luke Air Force Base band, the Flagstaff Symphony and the Phoenix Symphony.
Founder Jennings Butterfield passed away in 1982 and his wife, Lillian, in 1990. But the legacy they helped to create lives on in the music we hear today. Maestro Butterfield was succeeded by Dr. Bernard Goodman for one season, followed by Dr. Eugene P. Lombardi, who conducted from 1983 to 1987. Maestro James Yestadt took the baton in 1988 and directed the talents of the professional musicians from around the Valley and the retired professionals from the Sun Cities until 2006. Under the direction of Maestro Yestadt, in 2002 the West Valley Symphony received WESTMARC’s “Best of the West” award.
Over the years, the orchestra changed its name and performance locations. First the name was changed to the Sun Cities Symphony, to include Sun City West. In 1997 the name was changed to the Symphony of the West Valley to reflect a commitment to serve the growing Northwest Valley and finally in 2004 to the West Valley Symphony. The symphony performances moved from the original location of Town Hall Auditorium to the Sundial Auditorium when it opened in the 1970’s and to the Sundome (later known as the Maricopa County Events Center) in Sun City West in 1980. In 2005 the Sundome was temporarily (now permanently) closed and the
Symphony held its 2005-06 season classical performances at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Sun City West.
In February 2006, after several years of declining revenue from ticket sales and overall contributions, the symphony cancelled the two remaining Classical concerts of the 2005-06 Season. The announcement was met with great sadness on the part of the patrons, volunteers and musicians that had devoted their energy and talents to the organization. The Trustees set about trying to keep the organization’s framework intact with the hope that future circumstances might make the orchestra’s performances possible again. In December 2007, the Symphony announced a generous bequest from Mr. J. E. Donald Hastie of Sun City. With this funding, the Symphony’s trustees began plans to “re-invent” the orchestra. After a two year hiatus, two concerts were performed in February and April 2008. Because those two concerts, conducted by Maestro Warren Cohen on Scottsdale, were greeted by such an enthusiastic audience the Board of Trustees immediately began to plan future seasons.
In November of 2008, the Symphony kicked off a four concert season with programs conducted by Maestros Cohen and Cal Stewart Kellogg. Each led the orchestra for two performances that were again well received by local patrons. In April 2009, Maestro Kellogg was named Music Director/Conductor of the West Valley Symphony. Maestro Kellogg continues to be an audience favorite, thanks to his personable style and exceptional talent, leading the orchestra in truly stirring performances.
The West Valley Symphony Board of Trustees, Conductor and Musicians firmly believe that every community deserves access to a variety of arts. Our mission is to provide access to classical music performed by professional musicians. We deeply appreciate our individual and corporate supporters and encourage each of you to support the businesses and organizations that help bring us this wonderful music to life.