About FSO: Mission & History

Our mission is to culturally enrich the communities of northern Arizona through music performance, outreach and education.

Our History, Our Names

In 1950 the Northern Arizona Orchestra played its first concert in the gymnasium at Northern Arizona University. On May 29, 1961, articles of incorporation were filed with the state of Arizona declaring the Flagstaff Symphony Association a nonprofit corporation. The names on that document are embedded in Flagstaff’s history and resound in its present: George Babbitt, Jr., William W. Stevenson, Elden S. Porter, Robert F. Clark, William V. Borcherding, Platt Cline, Charles Fairchilds and Eldon A. Ardrey.

Today’s FSO continues its long and fruitful relationship with NAU, but it has also come a long way since that first concert in the gym. Musicians are an impressive array of local talent. Hundreds have played in our orchestra over the years. Their names are inscribed in our history. Their music fed the souls of thousands of audience members. More names. More threads.

Artistic Director Elizabeth Schulze, now in her sixth season, leads performances with superb musical sense and attention to excellence. She is preceded by a line of distinguished conductors woven into our past: Jack Swartz, Harold Goodman, Vernon Kliewer, Pat Curry, Tom Kirshbaum, Harold Weller and Randall Craig Fleischer.

Behind the scenes, our staff and board of directors work to ensure the stability and growth of the FSO. They also weave their names into our fabric. Emeritus board members from years past include Irene Alpert, Elizabeth Archuleta, Beverly Armstrong, Helen Black, Ted Bowell, Irene Croft, John Cummings, Will Duncan, Kathleen Franklin, Lela Montfort, Bill Morrison, Richard Neville, Hal Stern, Carl Taylor, Peter Wainwright, Tom Ward, Jean Wilcox.

Our history is a long and distinguished list of names. Behind those names are the thousands of men and women over the years who have contributed their time and talents to the FSO by serving, playing, listening, supporting. They have honored us with what they have given. We honor them in the music we continue to make.