All City Orchestra
History of the Fort Wayne All-City Orchestra
In 1993 the group rehearsed in the Anthis Career Center Auditorium and was conducted by David Tovey. In 1995 rehearsals were moved to the Memorial Park cafeteria. Rehearsals were on Monday evenings and the concerts were held at The Embassy. The ACO toured each year in May, presenting at 3 middle schools, and Weisser Park Elementary was added to round the number of performance sites up to twelve.
I was the Conductor of the FWCS All-City Orchestra from 1996 to 2000. The group consisted of 75 to 80 middle school musicians, selected through an audition process. The ACO would rehearse for approximately 12 weeks, during the months of February, March and April, and then present three concerts at elementary schools in the FWCS system during a 1 day tour in late April/early May. The group would also perform a final concert at the Scottish Rite Auditorium in downtown Fort Wayne, IN. The ensemble was funded through the FWCS school system until 2002, when funding was pulled from the program.
Fast forward to 2016: Jamal Robinson, Board Chairman of Believe In A Dream, Inc., asked Colleen and I at the end of a BIAD board meeting what group we would like to add to the Orchestral Arts portion of the organization. We looked at each other and said, “We would really like to bring back the All-City Orchestra.” I had been fortunate enough to lead the group for 5 years, and Colleen had been a student member of the group for 4 years. The All-City Orchestra is the only Full Orchestra performance ensemble that many of our middle school string players would be able to experience during their years in FWCS, since there is currently only a full orchestra in FWCS at Snider High School.
The mission of the ACO is to provide a full orchestra performance experience for middle school brass, percussion, string and woodwind players in the greater Fort Wayne area. By participating in this ensemble, members of the ACO will gain valuable performance skills and increase their musical knowledge of the orchestral arts, which will hopefully deepen their appreciation of all forms of orchestra music and encourage the students to seek out additional performance opportunities during their middle and high school years.
By: Dean Smekens with support from Colleen Phillips