:: Riverside Symphony Orchestra Scrapbook Collection

Introduction

The Riverside Symphony Orchestra Scrapbook Collection contains items assembled by its auxiliary organization, the Symphony Guild. It includes performance programs, event invitations, newspaper clippings of music reviews, interviews, and commentaries, and copies of the guild newsletter, the "Symphonews." The scrapbooks are arranged chronologically, beginning with the 1959/60 season and ending with the 1989/90 season -- with a gap between late 1983 and mid-1986. The scrapbooks, along with the Riverside Symphony Orchestra Program Collection, can help reconstruct a history of this Riverside institution. For example, one can see the evolution of the orchestra from its early days as a city-based organization, to its growth as a county performing arts group, reflected in its name change to the Riverside County Philharmonic in 1989. Even its supporting members group changed its name from the Riverside Symphony Woman's Guild, to the Riverside Symphony Guild, and once again to the Riverside Philharmonic Guild. The scrapbooks supplement the program collection in that they provide background information, supplemental material, and occasionally fill in the gaps in the program collection. For example, Folder 4 contains items (including performance programs) from the 1980/81 and 1982/83 seasons -- a time period not covered by the program collection.

The scrapbook collection provides additional material for other research topics, such as:

  • the obstacles facing the arts (most notably funding)
  • child musicians
  • background information on the musicians in the orchestra and newspaper interviews with guest performers -- information not included in the program collection.

The newspaper commentaries and reviews from the scrapbook, combined with the notes from the programs, describe the background of the pieces selected and the manner in which the orchestra performed them -- and in so doing, show that while musical scores are written in black and white, the musical experience is much more colorful.

The collection is contained in four boxes and measures five linear feet.

History

In 1959, at the home of Bertha Sperry, an 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, remaining the orchestra leader for nine seasons until resigning in 1973. In 1974, Lawrence Christianson become the director. After his departure for a teaching post in West Virginia, the orchestra has five guest conductors during the 1987/89 season, including Patrick Flynn. He became the permanent conductor starting with the 1988/89 season. He continues to hold this position as of the 2000/2001 season.

As conductors have changed over the forty years of the Riverside Symphony Orchestra, so did other aspects of the organization including the name when, in the spring of 1989, the organization became the Riverside County Philharmonic. The title pages in the programs, though, don't illustrate this change until the end of the 1990/91 season. The name change reflects the group's expansion from its home at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium to perform at other communities in the county. It has also performed in recent years under the name Inland Empire Philharmonic as it extended to communities in San Bernardino County.

Besides regular season performances, the Riverside Symphony has performed at special engagements, for example, a joint appearance with the Riverside Civic Ballet in a production of the Nutcracker in 1965. It has also performed at several free children's concerts, an idea that goes back to its first season in 1959.

Guest artists have included Harpo Marx and Jack Benny, both of whom performed benefits for the orchestra. Harpo Marx even made an appearance at a 1964 benefit concert for Thomas Facey during his illness. At this event, shortly before Marx's death, he portrayed the narrator of Peter and the Wolf, a rare speaking appearance for the famous mute comedian. He also has written the version performed, apparently with his brother Groucho Marx, and donated a painting of his creation for an auction to raise funds for Facey's medical bills.

Fund-raising is a recurring theme in the history of the Riverside Symphony Orchestra. The Symphony Guild played a major part in supporting the orchestra through such drives as the I Love Ludwig season ticket sales in 1961, which coincided with Beethoven's birthday; a musical cruise on the S.S. Azure Seas in 1988; various dinner shows under such names as Forum Follies (1987) and Freshman Follies (1989); benefit balls and dinners; membership teas and fashion shows, luaus and other ethnic dinners (such as the German buffet fundraiser of 1980); and other guild parties, often at a member's home.

Scope and Content

The Riverside Symphony Orchestra Scrapbook collection consists of one series divided into seven folders, three of them oversized scrapbooks and the other four magnetic photo albums. The material is arranged roughly chronologically, according to the symphony season. Folder 1 contains items from the spring of 1959 to the end of 1964. Folder 2 documents activities from January 1965 to the summer of 1969. Folder 3 covers the 1969/70 season to the end of the 1979/80 one. Folder 4 daters from May 1980 to October 1983. Folder 5 contains material from the 1986/87 and 1987/88 season while Folder 6 covers seasons 1988/89 and 1989/90. Folder 7 seems to be an addendum binder, consisting of duplications and supplemental material from 1968/69 to 1971/72 with a few items form 1966 as well. This folder also has items that were placed one on top of another.

The items in these binders represent a variety of paper products: newspaper clippings of reviews, interviews, commentaries, and ads; complete and incomplete performance programs; invitations; flyers and mailings; posters apparently unrelated to the orchestra; ticket forms; correspondence; and photographs, black/white and color, Polaroid and 35mm, some with identification. Due to the nature of the binders, though, many of these items have either been pasted to the scrapbooks or have become stuck to the magnetic photo pages.

Series Description

Series I: Scrapbooks

This series contains seven folders arranged chronologically from the debut season of 1959/60 to the 1989/90 season. The orchestra first performed as the Riverside County Philharmonic during the latter season. The materials mostly relate to symphony performances and guild activities.

Folder 1 includes the debut program, the first issue of Symphonews (November 1960), and a booklet by Thomas Facey and his wife regarding orchestra rules such as attitude, seating arrangement, how to acknowledge applause, and how to mark the music. Folder 1 also includes clippings from the November 1961 and March 1964 Harpo Marx appearances (the latter being the first time James Guthrie appeared with the orchestra as a guest conductor). The "I Love Ludwig" ticket campaign material, including a baton and a letter from Peanuts creator Charles Schultz to Mrs. Facey, is also included in Folder 1.

Folder 2 has an October 1967 clipping on composer William Grant Still, who was the first African American to lead a major orchestra in the United States -- he led the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1936. Folder 2 also contains items regarding the Jack Benny appearance, including the program (not found in the related program collection) and a brochure on his career signed by a comedian.

Folder 3 contains material on the 1971 Summer Fling, a fundraising event that included a chance to win a 1971 Toyota with the purchase of 1971/72 season tickets.

Folder 4 contains flyers and photos on various guild fundraising parties.

Folder 5 includes a clipping regarding efforts to bring classical music to schools in Riverside, as well as newspaper articles on Lawrence Christianson's departure and the search to replace him (a blank form passed to audience members following the appearance of a guest conductor, asking for their input).

Folder 6 includes clippings on the orchestra's expansion and contraction from Palm Desert, as well as 1990 reports on the orchestra's financial needs and its competition with the Riverside Opera Association for funding.

Folder 7 includes copies of items from Folders 5 and 6, but the information is still useful in filling in the gaps in the program collection. One item from 1972 describes the difficulty that was posed when the orchestra had prepared for one piece, and the guest artist of the evening had practiced for another.

Folder 1: Seasons 1959/60 to 1964/65

Folder 2: Seasons 1964/65 to 1968/69

Folder 3: Seasons 1969/70 to 1979/80

Folder 4: Seasons 1980/81 to 1982/83

Folder 5: Seasons 1986/87 to 1987/88

Folder 6: Seasons 1988/89 to 1989/90

Folder 7: Seasons 1968/69 to 1971/72

Related Collections

The Riverside Symphony Orchestra Program Collection

References

Inland Empire/Riverside County Philharmonic. www.thephilharmonic.org (5 April 2001)

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