Mobile Symphony was established in 1970 as Symphony Concerts of Mobile. Its mission was to present excellent touring orchestras for six evening concerts. Orchestras included Alabama Symphony, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and more. In 1996, the board of Mobile Symphony decided that to truly serve the educational, quality of life, and economic development needs of the community, it must create a local Mobile Symphony Orchestra, utilizing and developing local professional musicians. Thus, the planning and development of the local orchestra began. The official name was changed to Mobile Symphony, Inc. in 1997.
Jerome Shannon served as Principal Guest Conductor for the Mobile Symphony during 1998-2000 while the board conducted the search for its first Music Director. During these years, new education programs for young people were developed and expanded, and free outdoor concerts were added to its regular concert season. In addition, Mobile Symphony officially became the orchestra for Mobile Opera productions.
2000-2001 marked the beginning of a new era for the Mobile community. Scott Speck was named Mobile Symphony’s first Music Director. Speck’s talent, enthusiasm and love of music has elevated the orchestra to new levels and created a new standard of excitement for the entire community.
Also, during this time the Mobile Symphony Youth Orchestra completed its first year under the auspices of Mobile Symphony. Mobile Symphony’s music education program, Preludes , was funded by a grant from NEA. Professional musicians taught violin lessons to 90 third graders and offered music classes to over 1,500 students, in nine area elementary schools.
In 2001-2002, a new acoustical shell transformed the entire concert experience for orchestra and audience alike. The education program encompassed eleven area elementary schools. Bay Area Strings, a community string ensemble, moved into Mobile Symphony’s education program as an opportunity for both adults and youth. The Chamber Music Series was extended to the Eastern Shore at the University of South Alabama’s Fairhope campus. Mobile Symphony and Mobile Opera purchased a building at 257 Dauphin Street , and renovations were completed in September 2002. The building includes a rehearsal hall, teaching studios and administrative office space.