Beloit Janesville Symphony Orchestra celebrating its 60th anniversary

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Wednesday, September 11, 2013

JANESVILLE--In an age when arts organizations struggle to survive, the Beloit Janesville Symphony has remained a musical fixture, evolving to reach new audiences and expand the interests of its traditional ticket holders.

This year, the Beloit Janesville Symphony will celebrate its 60th anniversary with a Friday, Sept. 20, gala at the Beloit Country Club. The following evening, the symphony will host a concert featuring three men who have conducted the orchestra—Rob Tomaro, Crawford Gates and Lewis Dalvit.

The Gazette's archives offer stories big and small about the Beloit Janesville Symphony:

1953: Lewis and Pat Dalvit, along with other musicians and supporters in the community, start the Beloit Civic Orchestra. Pat Dalvit is a string player and an accomplished musician in her own right. Lewis Dalvit is on the music faculty of Milton and Beloit colleges.

1957-1958 season: The orchestra makes a tour of communities, including Janesville; Rockford, Ill.; Orfordville; Brodhead; Delavan; and Milton.

In June, Rockford television station WREX-TV broadcasts a concert featuring the orchestra and the youth orchestra.

1959: A Gazette headline announces, “Dalvit to conduct NBC Symphony next May.”  Dalvit was scheduled to conduct the symphony as part of a live broadcast from Carnegie Hall.

“Beloiters interested in attending the Carnegie hall concert are urged to make travel arrangements with Beloit Travel Service,” the story notes.

1962: A “Concert for Young People” is held at Janesville Senior High School. The theme is “Stories in Music.” The featured soloist is Sue Prueher, pianist, a senior at Janesville High School who placed first in citywide auditions.

1965: Dalvit leaves Beloit to become the conductor of the Jackson Symphony Orchestra in Mississippi.

That same year, Crawford Gates comes to Beloit College from Brigham Young University, where he was the head of the music department, to become conductor of the Beloit Janesville Symphony.

1971: Virginia Turner helps form the Janesville Symphony Guild.

1972: The symphony entertains children and their parents with a “Psychedelic Symphony Program” at Beloit Turner High School. The program includes “Once Upon a Gloom,” a theater piece for puppets, narrator and orchestra; Sarah Collins, the winner of the Young Artist Competition held by the symphony, and a performance of Smetana's “Moldau” accompanied by a multi-media light show and slides prepared by Franklin Boggs, an artist in residence at Beloit College.

1979: The group officially changes its name to the Beloit Janesville Symphony Orchestra.

1985-86: For the first time, the Beloit Janesville Symphony will charge for concerts. “Early bird” subscriptions will sell for $15.

1988-89: The group celebrates its 35th anniversary. Gates tells The Gazette, “Life is very rich here, full of marvelous opportunities to make beautiful music with some of the most wonderful people in the world.”

1999-2000: Hundreds of people attend the reception honoring retiring conductor Crawford Gates. Conductor, composer and jazz musician Rob Tomaro begins his tenure with the orchestra.

May 2002: After 31 years as separate organizations, the Beloit Janesville Symphony Guild and the Janesville Symphony Guild merge into one organization, “Friends of the Symphony.”

2003-04: The group celebrates its 50th anniversary. Crawford Gates returns for the first concert to conduct Glinka's “Russlan and Ludmilla Overture.”

2006: The symphony accompanies Buster Keaton's silent film “The Cameraman” at the Beloit International Film Festival. The event is a big hit, and begins the orchestra's close association with the film festival.

2012: The orchestra opens its season with a “Festivale Latino” highlighting music from Argentina, Cuba and Mexico.

2013: The orchestra celebrates its 60th year.

This story was updated Sept. 13, 2013, to reflect the following correction:


An incorrect date for the Beloit Janesville Symphony gala celebrating the group’s 60th anniversary was listed in an earlier version of this article.

The gala is 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, at the Country Club of Beloit. An anniversary concert is 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, in the Beloit Memorial High School auditorium.

For more information, call 608-313-1200.

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