The Wyoming Symphony Orchestra in Casper celebrates its 70th anniversary this season. The orchestra is also marking Beethoven's 250th birthday and the 150th anniversary of women's suffrage in Wyoming.
Music director Christopher Dragon says the orchestra's performances highlight these milestones. In April, the orchestra will perform its first-ever commissioned piece, the Suffragette Symphony. "[It] will be a very significant concert for the community to celebrate," said Dragon. "[And it] will be a very special concert for the orchestra. From what I am aware of, I don't think the orchestra has commissioned a piece before, so it's actually a big thing for an orchestra to do."
This is Christopher Dragon's first season with the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra. He is the orchestra's seventh music director since the orchestra formally began in 1947. But the WSO's beginnings go back even earlier.
Executive director Rachel Bailey says orchestra began informally in 1929 in Casper and ran until it was sidelined by World War Two. "It was developed really, purely, for the love and to play music," said Bailey. There was a group of musicians in town that wanted to continue to play and practice their craft and they kind of just started a symphony orchestra." After the war, the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra restarted in 1947 and was formalized with a president and a board of directors.