The Michigan Philharmonic is a fully professional orchestra under the direction of Music Director and Conductor Nan Washburn and performs concerts throughout Southeast Michigan. Originally called the Plymouth Symphony Orchestra, they adopted the name Michigan Philharmonic in 2011.
The orchestra plays a full season of concerts from September to May, with several special concerts and events throughout the year. A unique feature of the Michigan Philharmonic is the adventuresome programming which has garnered the orchestra 6 ASCAP awards. By highlighting new music at each concert.
In 1945 local residents Evelyn and Carl Groschke invited a group of friends to their home to join them in playing instrumental music. At the same time, Paul Wagner, director of the Plymouth High School music program, wanted to organize an orchestra. They joined forces and the Plymouth Symphony Orchestra was born, giving its first public performance on April 20, 1947. Rehearsals were held at the Groschke home.
The first concerts were performed in the small gym at Plymouth High School (now Central Middle School) and on the school lawn. In the 1950s, the orchestra played at the Pino Farm (now Plymouth Colony Farms), where a stage was constructed for the PSO and audience members sat in the meadow on folding chairs or blankets. When a new gym was built at CHS, the orchestra performed there until the Plymouth-Salem High School Auditorium became its home for many years.
The orchestra has grown from a dedicated nucleus of a dozen volunteer community players to over 60 professional musicians and performs a wide range of chamber, jazz, popular, and standard symphonic repertoire, ranging from the 16th century to the present. A review of past programs shows that the orchestra has performed approximately 1,500 symphonic works. Hundreds of guest artists and several thousand singers have performed with the orchestra. In all, there have been seven conductors: Paul Wagner (1945-1950), Wayne Dunlap (1951-1979), Johan van der Merwe (1980-1985), Charles Greenwell (1985-1986), Leon Gregorian (1986-1987), Russell Reed (1987-1999) and Nan Washburn (1999-present).
In 2003 the PSO established a youth orchestra program, the Celebration Youth Orchestras. It now boasts three tiers, 65 students, a flute choir, and an annual Vivaldi Concerto competition. In 2004, PSO expanded further by creating a second, highly acclaimed professional performing ensemble, Orchestra Canton (OC). Reflecting the organizational growth and expansion into more local communities, the name of the Plymouth Canton Symphony Orchestras (PCSO)was adopted as the "umbrella" for all our ensembles and activities.
To truly reflect the tremendous growth in scope and stature, in 2011, the organization adopted the new names of the Michigan Philharmonic and the Michigan Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.