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Celebrating 50 Years

of Shaping the Landscape
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Reno, Nevada. 1969. Population: 70,000. Casinos. Divorce. The persistent hum of neon. These were the sights and sounds conjured up in the minds of people when asked about Reno- a city hiding in the desert- glamorized only by its proximity to the blue oasis of Lake Tahoe. 

The region would become home to one man with a wild dream of creating a symphony orchestra in the Biggest Little City. His name was Gregory Stone. Born in Russia at the turn of the century, the eccentric and strong-headed man possessed the credentials to take up the baton…and he had the passion to face the myriad of obstacles that would stand in his way.

Gregory Stone saw a cultural and artistic void that yearned to be satisfied. He knew the roadblocks- a lack of funding, lack of classically trained musicians, and a lack of audience – yet he forged ahead with the same spirit of pioneers and innovators that have come to define our city. 

Through a decade of highs and lows, he persevered. When the financials were on life support, he dug into his life savings to fund the orchestra with over $100,000 and enlisted the help of his wife to sell ads and solicit donations. When critics panned the quality of the orchestra, Gregory was steadfast in his conviction that Reno could produce a high-quality symphony with local talent. He scoured the town for musicians, bringing in players from the casinos and tapping into the wealth of exceptional young talent in the area. A handful of these young played have stayed the course and are familiar, prominent members of the orchestra today. 

People with big dreams and the passion to pursue them make the impossible happen. Because of Gregory Stone and his personal sacrifice, the magic of music has shaped the landscape of northern Nevada for 50 years. A magic that has enthralled hundreds of thousands as the symphony’s attendance continues to blossom from the early days of scarcely filled halls. A magic that speaks to the soul of a listener- eliciting a variety of emotions that shake us alive. It is a magic that brings together people from all walks of life, all ages, and forges bonds across generations. A magic that ushered in a cultural renaissance for Reno that has never waned, but continues to grow, expand, challenge, and delight. 

Gregory Stone gave us a symphony, yes, but he also gave the city the imperishable gift of music. He gave young musicians a community in which to pursue their dreams. He gave critics and admirers alike an unlikely- and magnetic- story. A story that began with Gregory and continued through the guidance and artistry of subsequent maestros: Ron Daniels, Barry Jekowsky, and Laura Jackson. A story that thrives today with an unwritten future that brims with promise and potential for even greater heights and deeper impacts. A future where the Reno Phil continues through education and growing a new generation of young musicians and music lovers. We look forward to writing future chapters of this story with you while continually celebrating the powerful magic of music. 

Just one person can make a monumental difference and change the landscape forever.

Because of Maestro Gregory Stone’s relentless passion we exist today.

Because of you, we exist tomorrow. 

Toshio Akiyama

Season Subscriber
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Lydia Meyer

Reno Native
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Marianne Maytan

Reno Phil Musician for 50 Years 
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Isabel de la Garza-Gibson

Reno Phil Youth Orchestra Student
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LEARN MORE ABOUT THE RENO PHIL'S HISTORY

Celebrating 50 Years in Reno, NV
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This commemorative work tells the story of the first 50 years of the Reno Philharmonic based on interviews with more than 200 people, including conductors, orchestra and chorus members, management, donors, trustees, and audience members. Author Judith F. Simpson also draws on research from newspaper articles, photos and old concert programs to tell this fascinating tale. 

50 Years of the Reno Philharmonic is available for purchase at our office, the Nevada Historical Society, and Sundance Bookstores. $25

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The Reno Phil is currently the featured exhibit at the Nevada Historical Society! Explore the exhibit and join us for our lecture series. 

THE BIGGEST LITTLE ORCHESTRA IN THE WORLD: 50 Years of the Reno Philharmonic Exhibit

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HOW WE ARE CELEBRATING

The Reno Phil has commissioned Grammy-nominated composer Zhou Tian to commemorate the 50th anniversary season with a special piece celebrating the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad and birth of our city. We have a spectacular slate of guest artists for our Classix Series. Audience favorites and old friends Rachel Barton Pine and Jon Nakamatsu will return to the stage. I will introduce you to newcomers Time for Three, this brilliant trio transcends traditional classification- with elements of country western, gypsy and jazz creating a unique sounds only this group can generate. Also, I can’t wait for you to hear the indescribable talent of the world famous baritone, Thomas Hampson, in March 2019. This will be a season of incredible music and a monumental year for the Reno Phil! Let’s Play. 

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SHARE YOUR RENO PHIL STORY

Celebrating 50 Years of Shaping the Landscape. Over the last half a century, the Reno Phil has been lucky enough to be a part of the lives of our musicians, listeners, students, and community. In celebration of our 50th anniversary season, we are collecting the stories that make us who we are. Please share yours using the form below. 

By submitting your story, you agree to allow the Reno Phil to publicly share your story as well as your first and last name. If you do not want your information published, please email us.