About the Friends
The first meeting of the Orlando Philharmonic Guild was held in February 1996 with thirteen members. The organization was formed to provide financial and community support to the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. In July 1996, the name was changed to Friends of the Orlando Philharmonic. In December 1996, the first invitational fund raiser, "The Holiday Pops Dinner Gala" was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The first "Grand Overture Ball" was held in March 1999, at the Hyatt Regency. That year we also developed a membership booklet containing the Friends membership list, history, and Bylaws.
With the initial purchase, in 1999, of golf shirts with the OPO logo for the Philharmonic musicians to wear at the outdoor concerts, the Friends Boutique was born. Each season a number of gifts and musically related items have been added to the Boutique making it a fun place to shop, with proceeds directly benefiting the Orchestra.
The big event in 2000 was the "Second Grand Overture Ball" in April at the Hyatt Regency with dinner, dancing, silent auction and music by the Philharmonic conducted by Andy Lane. In May 2001, the Friends' Gala of the Year, "Pictures at an Exhibition, An Experience in Music and Art" was held at the brand new Westin Grand Bohemian in Downtown Orlando. Over 200 guests enjoyed music, art and food from around the world.
In July 2003, the Friends launched a new members' campaign and had a new brochure designed for distribution to future Friends. By September 2003, the Friends had grown to over 100 members. Today, the Friends have more than 235 members, and many of the founders are still actively involved.
The Friends celebrated its 15th anniversary year in October of 2011 with a beautiful party. All past presidents, except one living afar, were on hand to share the stories of the past and honor the efforts of many.
The Friends continue to host fundraising events focusing on opportunities to be "up close and personal" with the maestro and visiting performers. These intimate evenings are usually hosted in private homes by generous benefactors of the orchestra and are very highly regarded. Jeans and Jewels, our season wrap-up party, is an annual favorite since it was first begun in 2005. In addition, we sponsor other events such as progressive dinners, casino nights and the Opening Night gala dinner.
The Friends host complimentary post-concert receptions after all evening Super Series concerts where Friends and special guests talk with our musicians and occasionally enjoy a special encore performance.
In accordance with our mission, we provide thousands of volunteer hours each year, helping the staff and musicians. Volunteer efforts include, providing assistance with mailings, data input and administrative tasks, auditions, score editing, musician transportation, on-site production, educational programs, special receptions, refreshments, and, of course, purchasing and sales for the Boutique.
Another important aspect of the Friends mission is reaching out to the community. In the past, we have held joint events with the History Center and the Cornell Museum of Art. During the 2012-2013 Season, the Phil will celebrate its 20th Anniversary year with many events, including collaborative efforts with the Orlando Repertory Theater and the Shakespeare Theatre.
To help prepare for the future, the Friends organization engaged in a Future Search process. The outcome was a great tribute to the accomplishments of the past and a blueprint which has guided our planning. We vary the dates, times and places for meetings to accommodate a variety of schedules; we present interesting programs at our regular meetings; a Welcoming Committee greets each new member; we have our own website and publish a newsletter; and the Friends Music Academy is designed to enhance the appreciation of our wonderful Orchestra.
On the financial front, since the Friends first meeting in 1996, nearly $900,000, including a $100,000 contribution to the endowment, has been raised. This does not include the value of countless volunteer hours worked on behalf of the Orchestra.
We are very pleased to welcome many new members and find that our best recruiters are the new members themselves. If you are not already a member, please consider joining. Every Friend makes a difference.