The Redlands Symphony was founded in 1950 by Dr. Edward C. Tritt as the University-Community Symphony Orchestra, an adjunct organization to the University of Redlands. The orchestra quickly became a vital part of Redlands’ cultural fabric, bringing a high level of artistic excellence to the stage of the Memorial Chapel. Early successes included the 1957 premiere of a work by William Grant Still and a sold-out performance by Jack Benny in 1974.
In 1974, the Redlands Winter Concert Association, which had been founded in 1956 to present concerts by touring artists in the Memorial Chapel, took over management of the University-Community Symphony Orchestra from the University of Redlands. The Winter Concert Association now assumed the dual role of performing symphonic concerts and presenting outside artists for the community.
The University-Community Symphony Orchestra officially merged with the Redlands Winter Concert Association in 1983, becoming the Redlands Symphony Association. That same season, Jon Robertson accepted the position of Music Director & Conductor. Under his leadership, the orchestra has evolved from a mix of faculty, students, and townspeople to a professional ensemble of the region’s foremost musicians.
In 1998, the Redlands Symphony expanded its service to the community by launching the OrKIDstra program, which provides music education and concert-going opportunities to schoolchildren throughout the region. OrKIDstra has grown steadily over the years and now presents four concerts and curriculum enrichment materials to over 6,000 students from 17 schools, as well as a free Family Concert & Instrumental Petting Zoo each spring.
The Redlands Symphony continues to maintain a close and mutually-beneficial relationship with the University of Redlands. The University provides the orchestra with support in numerous ways, not least of which is the use of the Memorial Chapel. In return, the Symphony provides an opportunity for outstanding students at the School of Music the opportunity to gain experience playing symphonic concerts with some of the region’s finest artist, many of whom are also on faculty at the University.
The Redlands Symphony Orchestra’s remarkable growth under the baton of Maestro Jon Robertson amazed critics and delighted audiences. Highlights have included performances of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony, the Mozart Requiem, and a staged production of Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale featuring Tony Award-winner John Rubinstein. Over the years, the orchestra has received several “exemplary” ratings from the California Arts Council, which commented, “This is a remarkable, strong orchestra, boasting fine ensemble playing, attention to detail and a rich orchestral sound.” Maestro Robertson retired in 2016 after 33 years on the podium.
On June 4, 2016, the Redlands Symphony announced the appointment of Ransom Wilson as Music Director, promising a future in which the orchestra will soar to even greater artistic heights.
Music Directors & Conductors of the Redlands Symphony
Edward C. Tritt