The Alpena Symphony Orchestra (ASO) was launched in the spring of 2004 and held its inaugural concert on June 25 of that year featuring nearly 50 area musicians. The formation of the orchestra was the dream of various local musicians that wanted to revive the former Alpena Civic Orchestra that had not been active since late 1980s. This first concert, under the direction of Dr. Diane Float, brought a "standing room only" crowd of 250 people to the Alpena Civic Center. A new era involving string music had been born in Alpena.
The ASO Today
The ASO season starts in the fall and runs through the following summer. It includes three full orchestral concerts and two or three small ensemble concerts. Concerts are conducted by maestro Jim VanEizenga with Dr. Eric Lawson as Concertmaster.
The orchestra also began the Alpena String School in 2013. This school is providing a way for young students as well as adults to begin and develop on a string instrument. The school is led by Dr. Eric Lawson.
In addition to its primary mission of sharing the beauty of classical music with residents of Alpena and the surrounding community, the symphony also offers musicians, professionals, amateurs and students, the opportunity to learn orchestral repertoire, perform in concerts and experience other educational activities.
Concerts are ticketed events for three concerts per season, with donations accepted at ensemble concerts each season. Adults are charged $15.00 and students are free. There is a direct-mail fund raising campaign each fall, plus some grant funding to support the symphony financially. To create a full symphonic experience for concert goers, it is necessary to invite some musicians from outside the area. These performers are reimbursed at a minimal level for travel expenses. There are no salaried personnel. All funding is used for the purchase of music, instruments, rehearsal space and fees for concert venues. The ASO is a Michigan non-profit corporation and has received non-profit status under IRS section 501 (c) (3).