Contributed By: Sandra Messbarger
With a $6,500 budget for the first season, the first concert of the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra was under the baton of C. Burdett Wolfe. The first concert represented the realization of a dream cherished by local music lovers for several years, even at its present stage, it was the farthest advance ever made in Corpus Christi. The first season began in November, 1945.
Rabbi Sydney Wolfe, President of the Symphony Society, was chairman and the following were officers: Mrs. Melvin Ocker, Mrs. Ted Buttrey, Ward Brandstetter, Henry Rahn, Dean Edwin Harvin, Terry Ferrell and Mrs. Richard King.
The most important decision this group had to make at the first meeting was whether the orchestra would be paid, since there were no funds available.
The first 50-piece orchestra was paid $25.00 per concert, including all rehearsals.
Four concerts were to be played the first season. The Corpus Christi ISD was the first to announce their first appropriation of $200 to the new orchestra.
In December of 1943, the new organization presented Handel’s Messiah, together with the newly formed community chorus. The first Symphony concert included: Artist: Eunice Podis- pianist, Concerto in E-flat- Liszt; Selections from Chopin; Der Freischuetz; Last Spring and Heart Wounds; The Music Box; Evening Prayer and Pantomime and Selections from the Nutcracker Suite.
So, the dream was realized and the first season where more than 4,000 people heard this first orchestra. The “Dreamers” were C. Burdette Wolfe, The CC Symphony Orchestra and the Society, which had a total of 52 members.
Supporting members were: Lichtenstein and Sons, Randell’s, Nueces Transportation Co. and the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.Maestro Wolfe said after the Symphony’s first season: “I should like very much to see the Corpus Christi Symphony become an institution in which every citizen feels a personal pride. To that end I shall put forth my best efforts.” After the first five years it was considered one of the finest orchestras in the Southwest.
While the orchestra was beginning their rehearsals at CC Junior College, Rabbi Wolf and the society were diligently working to find sufficient funds with solicitation among the city’s music lovers to guarantee the expenses for the first season.
To the surprise and delight of all, a capacity audience was on hand for the season and it was a huge success, leading to plans for the second season initiated.
Henry W. Rahn, new president of the Society for the next year, proposed a budget of $21,000. This was the beginning of our Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra!