The late Daniel Sternberg, former Dean of the School of Music, initiated the Baylor Symphony in 1944 with Governor Pat Neff, President of Baylor University, in preparation for the commemoration of the Centenary Anniversary of the University planned for the following year. The first concert of the new orchestra began with The Centennial Overture, a new work composed by Sternberg which later was performed by the Dallas Symphony after winning a contest for new music sponsored by that orchestra. Daniel Sternberg continued to conduct the Baylor Symphony until his retirement from the School of Music in 1982. Since 1984, the Baylor Symphony has been under the direction of Stephen Heyde, the Mary Franks Thompson Professor of Orchestral Activities and Conductor-in-Residence at Baylor University.
Under the direction of Stephen Heyde, the Baylor Symphony has performed eight times at the Texas Music Educators Clinic/Convention, appeared by invitation at the prestigious Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina and at national conventions of the American String Teachers Association and the College Orchestra Directors Association. In December of 2003, the Baylor Symphony was featured with other School of Music ensembles in a PBS Special, “Christmas at Baylor" that was aired nationally in over 350 markets with an estimated audience in excess of six million viewers.
The Baylor Symphony was privileged to accompany the last public performance of revered violinist Joseph Gingold and has also worked with many other distinguished conductors, performers and composers including Robert Shaw, William Kraft, Jacob Druckman, Lorin Hollander, Marvin Lamb, Steven Stucky, Corey Cerovsek, Giancarlo Guerrero, Roberto Diaz, Peter Schickele (PDQ Bach), Colin Jacobson, John Sharp, Theo Olof (former concertmaster of the Concertgebouw Orchestra), Adrian Avila and Nancy King among others. The Baylor Symphony has taken international tours of Costa Rica and Belgium and won The American Prize for 2014.
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