:: Riverside Symphony Orchestra Program Collection


This collection consists almost entirely of programs from the regular season performances of the Riverside Symphony Orchestra, with most items dating from 1959-1978 and 1988-2000. The programs show the evolution of an orchestra in Riverside. For example, the earliest program from the third performance of its first season (29 March 1910) had four pages. Inside the back cover, one finds that positions such as the oboe and the French horn had not been filled, and that the orchestra was soliciting for people to learn these instruments for the upcoming season. By 1990, the orchestra consisted entirely of professional union members. The most recent program in the collection (22 January 2000) was expanded to sixty-three pages and included player rosters; conductor and guest artist biographies; columns by presidents of the Riverside Symphony Orchestra Society, Riverside County Philharmonic Society, Riverside County Philharmonic Guild, and Philharmonic Board of Directors; and the occasional biography on an orchestra member. In addition to providing information on the orchestra, the programs represent the times in which they were published--from the cover art and color scheme of the 1970s to the late 1980s and early 1990s programs, which are among the largest in the collection, with color ads on high gloss paper. The advertisements and especially the program notes (written by University of California, Riverside, faculty, a society president, and orchestra staff) can also provide information for the researcher, whether it is information on local businesses, the increased use of corporate sponsorship for the arts, or one musician's take on Tchaikovsky.

The collection is 1.5 linear feet, and is contained in two boxes. The 1909/10 and the 1910/11 programs have rusted staples. These require future conservation work.


Orchestra performances in Riverside date as far back as 1879, though no single symphony organization existed to serve the community. Instead, Riverside had several orchestras over the years, each trying to fill the void left by its predecessor. The first, the Riverside Orchestra, operated in the late 19th century. Conductor J.F. Dietze, pianist Lily Eastman, and George Leach, a choral director, organized the orchestra, and the first performance was held on 4 June 1879. But the orchestra didn't last long, and neither did its principal participants. Dietze, Leach, and Eastman, who all came to Riverside for health reasons, died within a few years of their arrival from tuberculosis.

The second organization, the Riverside Symphony Orchestra, premiered in early 1910 at the Woman's Club House with B. Roscoe Shryock as conductor -- a post he served in until 1913. He and his wife, Bertha, a cellist and pianist, taught music lessons from their school, the Riverside Studio of Musical Art, which was located on Main Street. He later conducted the San Diego Symphony. As for the second attempt at an orchestra in Riverside, the freeze of 1913, which severely affected the citrus industry, the main economy of Riverside, may have played a part in the demise of the orchestra and Shryock's departure. In a speech given in the early 1920s, a member of the band stated that other musical organizations folded due to lack of funding. This seems to support the theory that the freeze caused not only financial hardship to the citrus growers, but to the businesses and organizations they patronized.

The Federal Works Progess Administration (WPA) also brought symphony performances to Riverside during the 1940s. Little is known about this effort. There seemed to have been about three performances by a Riverside Symphony Orchestra in 1940, including one held in conjunction with the Adult Education Department of the Riverside City School District.

In 1959, at the home of Bertha Sperry, a new orchestra formed with Thomas Facey as the conductor. Composed entirely of volunteers from Riverside and the surrounding communities, the orchestra first performed on 7 April 1959 at the Ramona Auditorium. Illness forced Facey to step down after the 1963/64 season. In 1964, James K. Guthrie took over as conductor, and remained the orchestra leader for nine seasons, until his resignation in 1973. In 1974, Lawrence Christianson became the director. Following his departure for a teaching post in West Virginia, the orchestra had five guest conductors during the 1987/88 season, including Patrick Flynn. He became the permanent conductor starting with the 1988/89 season. He continues to hold this position as of 14 March 2001.

As conductors have changed over the forty years of the Riverside Symphony Orchestra, so have other aspects of the organization, including its name, which in 1989, became the Riverside County Philharmonic. However, the title pages of the programs don't reflect this change until the end of the 1990/91 season. The group has also performed in recent years under the name Inland Empire Philharmonic as it began to play in communities in San Bernardino County.

In addition to regular season performances, the Riverside Symphony has performed at special engagements, such as the Ramona Bowl Music Appreciation Summer Concert in 1973. Guest artists have included Harpo Marx and Jack Benny, both of whom performed at benefits for the orchestra. John Williams guest conducted on 13 April 1991, and during the concert, he premiered his work "Concerto for Clarinet." The concerts of the Riverside Symphony Orchestra have not been limited to western European classical music. One guest artist, Kazui Kudo, a Japanese Koto player, performed with the orchestra in 1968.

The orchestra has worked closely with the school children of Riverside, performing at several free children's concerts -- an idea that goes back to its first season in 1959. In the early 1990s, local school bands played prior to the orchestra taking stage. During the 1990s, orchestra members visited schools as part of an outreach program entitled "Adventures in Music," where they gave bilingual lectures, demonstrated instruments, and performed in small groups.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of two series. Series I has two folders. Folder 1 contains performance programs from three seasons: 1909/10, 1910/11, and 1912/13. Folder 2 contains one program from 1940. Series II is divided into four sub-series so that the researcher can easily find the seasons associated with a particular conductor. Sub-series A, Folders 1-5, contains programs from the years when Facey conducted the orchestra: 1959 to the 1963/64 season. Sub-series B, Folders 1-8, covers the seasons from 1964/65 to 1972/73, when Guthrie directed. Sub-series C, Folders 1-4, has programs from seasons 1974 to 1978/79. Though Christianson continued to conduct with the Riverside Symphony Orchestra until 1987, the collection does not have most of the programs dating from the time when he conducted the orchestra. Sub-series D, Folders 1-11, begins with a full season Flynn conducted with orchestra, 1988/89, and concludes with the most recent programs from the 41st season of the Philharmonic (1999/2000). Several folders have duplicate programs. Most seasons within the folders are also incomplete, missing one or all but one of the programs for the regular season. Entire seasons are also not found in the collection, including 1969/70, 1975-77, 1979-88, and 1996/97. Some programs have inserts placed within their covers.

Series Description

Series I: Programs

This series contains items from two orchestras operating within the same name, the Riverside Symphony Orchestra. Of special interest is the program from May 1940, which seems to be from the Federal WPA programs.

Folder 1: Seasons 1909/10, 1910/11, and 1912/13 (four items)
Folder 2: 1940 (one item)

Series II: Programs for the Riverside Symphony Orchestra/Riverside County Philharmonic

This series has numerous programs and related material from the present orchestra which make up the bulk of the collection. The following programs may be of special interest to the researcher:

1) The program from 22 March 1960 which indicates that the orchestra dedicated the second act to opera singer and Riverside resident, Marcella Craft, who died the year before.

2) The 1968/69 programs which include information regarding the Jack Benny benefit concert (though the collection does not have a program from that event).

3) The 9 December 1978 program which includes an article by C. Bruce Tomlinson, a cellist who'd been with the organization since its first season. In the article, he compares the varying styles of the three conductors who directed the orchestra. He also writes about the Harpo Marx benefit performance.

4) The programs dating from the period when Christianson directed the orchestra are noted for the passages written [marginalia? check on this.] by the conductor (especially the piece from the 9 December 1978 program).

5) Programs with information regarding the Contemporary Music Festival, sponsored by the University of California, Riverside and the Riverside Symphony Orchestra.

6) Programs which detailed biographies and photos of different orchestra players.

7) Both the 16 October 1993 and the 25 September 1999 programs, which offer information on the philharmonic's educational outreach programs.

Sub-series A: Thomas Facey (conductor 1959-1963/64)

Folder 1: 1959/60 (nine items)
Folder 2: 1960/61 (four items)
Folder 3: 1961/62 (one item)
Folder 4: 1962/63 (one item)
Folder 5: 1963/64 (one item)

Sub-series B: James K. Guthrie (conductor 1964-1973)

Folder 1: 1964/65 (two items)
Folder 2: 1965/66 (eight items)
Folder 3: 1966/67 (six items)
Folder 4: 1967/68 (nine items)
Folder 5: 1968/69 (six items)
Folder 6: 1970/71 (one item)
Folder 7: 1971/72 (three items)
Folder 8: 1972/73 (five items)

Sub-series C: Lawrence Christianson (conductor 1974-1987)

Folder 1: 1974 (five items)
Folder 2: 1974/75 (four items)
Folder 3: 1977/78 (one item)
Folder 4: 1978/79 (one item)

Sub-series D: Patrick Flynn (1988-2000)

Folder 1: 1988/89 (six items)
Folder 2: 1989/90 (six items)
Folder 3: 1990/91 (seven items)
Folder 4: 1991/92 (ten items)
Folder 5: 1992/93 (four items)
Folder 6: 1993/94 (one item)
Folder 7: 1994/95 (one item)
Folder 8: 1995/96 (three items)
Folder 9: 1997/98 (two items)
Folder 10: 1998/99 (two items)
Folder 11: 1999/2000 (four items)

Related Collections

The Riverside Symphony Orchestra Scrapbook Collection


"Adventures in Music (AIM)." 2000-2001. Inland Empire/Riverside County Philharmonic. www.thephilharmonic.org/education.htm (5 April 2001)

Brown, John, Jr., and James Boyd. History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, Volume II. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1922.

Holmes, Elmer Wallace. History of Riverside County, California. Los Angeles: Historic Record Company, 1912.

Patterson, Tom. A Colony for California: Riverside's First Hundred Years. Riverside, California: The Museum Press Riverside Museum Associates, 1996.

Patterson, Tom. "Interest in music grew with Riverside." The Press-Enterprise. 29 October 1989.

Patterson, Tom. "Philharmonic a success except in paying bill." The Press-Enterprise. 4 November 1993: B-9.

Local History