Reflections on 75 Years of Ovations: Did You Know?

Contributed by: Sandra Messbarger

The gem of the Sparkling City by the Sea is truly the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra, which began in 1946 through the vision and hard work of the classical music community of Corpus Christi.

The Symphony Society of Corpus Christi was chartered in November, 1945 with Rabbi Sydney Wolf as president.  Dr. Dean E. Hardin, then President of Corpus Christi Junior College, was in the process of hiring someone to head the fledgling Music Department at the college and he found Dr. C. Burdett Wolf.  Dr. Wolfe was directed to find musicians for the new symphony as part of his new job description.  Being a great judge of musical ability, he hired many of the first musicians to teach at the college – and playing in the new symphony orchestra was part of their job description.
 
There are some interesting stories that accompany the first concert of the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra on February 11, 1946.  Music was scheduled to begin at 8:15 P.M. in the auditorium of Corpus Christi High School (later known as Roy Miller High School) since there was no air conditioning, it was hoped the late time would make the temperature in the auditorium more tolerable.
 
The first concert was played by an 80 piece orchestra, with each musician to receive $25 for the performance and all rehearsals.
 
That day there was a typical South Texas rain storm and the roof of the auditorium leaked.  There were some high stepping musicians as they moved to avoid the water from landing on their instruments.
 
Many were dubious at the beginning, but the orchestra had a very enthusiastic crowd, in spite of the rain, that opening night at Corpus Christi High School in 1946.   Their inaugural season was a huge success.
 
There was the hope expressed by many that the Corpus Christi Symphony might become one of the outstanding orchestras in the Southwest.  As Dr. Wolfe said, “I should like very much for the Corpus Christi Symphony to become an institution which every citizen feels a personal pride.   To this end, I shall put forth my best efforts.”
 
He did and his dream, along with many others in the community, became a reality that lives today in the Corpus Christi Symphony.