Mission & History
The mission of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony is to educate, entertain, and enrich listeners by presenting performances of the highest quality.
The WCFSO was founded in the fall of 1929 by G.T. Bennett, Director of the East Waterloo High School Orchestra; Ralph Pronk, director of the West Waterloo High School Orchestra; Cressy Whalen, then president of the Waterloo Musicians Union; and the late Myron Russell, emeritus head of the School of Music at the University of Northern Iowa. In 1929 the orchestra was named the Waterloo Symphony Orchestra.
Then, as now, community resources were solicited to underwrite the cost of the orchestra. Charter sponsors included the University Women’s Club, the Business and Professional Women’s Club, the B Natural Club and the Waterloo Supervisor’s Club, and early supporters included Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, Optimist, Y-Men’s Clubs, American Legion and the Chamber of Commerce. The tradition of community giving has continued and grown over the 83 years since, and hundreds of businesses, foundations and individuals have been added to the list of original patrons whose generosity and civic pride have supported this outstanding orchestra in the communities of Waterloo and Cedar Falls.
Our first concert was held at East High School, Thursday, February 6, 1930, with Mr. Bennett as conductor, sharing the honor with Mr. Pronk. This first concert featured two soloists: Mr. William E. Hayes, tenor and Myron Russell, English horn, both from Iowa State Teachers College. Today the orchestra performs at the Gallagher-Bluedown Performing Arts Center under the direction of Jason Weinberger.
There have been sixteen conductors of the orchestra since its beginnings. G.T. Bennett and Ralph Pronk conducted the first two concerts and Dr. Edward Kurtz, the head of the Orchestra Department at Iowa State Teachers College, was made official conductor in 1931.
Edward Kurtz 1931-1935
George Dasch 1935-1944
Jeanette Sheerer 1944-1947
Otto Jelinek 1947-1955
Matys Abas 1955-1958
Myron Russell 1958-1971
Donald Wendt (Acting Music Director) 1971-1972
Lathon Jernigan (Resident Conductor) 1972-1974
Joseph Giunta (Music Director and Conductor) 1974-1992
Elizabeth Schulze (Music Director and Conductor) 1994-1997
John LoPiccolo (Music Director and Conductor) 1998-1999
Jack Graham (Acting Music Director and Conductor) 1999-2000
Richard Rosenberg (Music Director and Conductor) 2000-2001
Jason Weinberger (Artistic Director and CEO) 2002-present
The personnel of the orchestra include professional and student musicians from the Cedar Valley and Eastern Iowa. Soloists who appeared with the orchestra in the twentieth century include Janos Starker, Gyorgy Sandor, Rafael Druian, Josef Gingold, Victor Borge, Peter Nero and Robert Merrill. In recent years, The King’s Singers, Isaac Stern, Doc Severinsen, Sharon Isbin, Simon Estes, Yo-Yo Ma, Peter Schickele, Chris Thile and Nadja Salerno-Sonenberg have joined the orchestra onstage.