Lima Symphony Orchestra

Jan. 23, 2014        

Lima Symphony Orchestra
CRAFTON BECK, Musical Director & Conductor

Yoder Recital hall

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In January 1953, a committee composed of John LaRotunda, Ben Schultz, Dom Trovarelli and Fred Mills organized the Lima Symphony Orchestra. This committee selected Lawrence Burkhalter as the symphony's first conductor. The LSO made its debut performance on May 23, 1954, in the Central High School auditorium to an "enthusiastic reception." William Byrd of Cincinnati led the symphony for the next 10 years, during which the LSO developed a regular subscription series of four or five concerts per season, put on an annual production of an opera or operetta, and began annual concerts for school children.

In 1967, Joseph Firszt became music director/conductor, beginning a 29-year tenure with the orchestra. Under his guidance the orchestra grew from 50 volunteer musicians to 75 paid musicians presenting a full series of six subscription concerts and several community concerts each year. School programs, master classes and joint sponsorship of the Lima Area Youth Orchestra are some examples of the impact Firszt made with the LSO.

Crafton Beck became music director/conductor after Firszt's retirement in 1996. During his tenure, Beck has expanded the reach of the orchestra throughout the West Central region of Ohio. The LSO now presents six subscription concerts, a family concert, two or more Mozart by Candlelight concerts and an annual New Year's Eve Pops concert.

The Lima Area Youth Orchestra, affiliated with the LSO and the Lima Noon Optimists, is a symphony orchestra comprised of secondary school students from around the Lima area. Its season runs roughly the length of the school year, with one public performance in early April. The Youth Orchestra is currently under the direction of Erin Grim, a teacher at Bath High School. The Youth Orchestra had formerly been conducted by Lloyd Butler, a lecturer and conductor of music at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio, and Dr. Edwin L. Williams, former chair of the music department at Ohio Northern, until his death on July 14, 2005.

Maestro Crafton Beck

The 2012-13 season marks Crafton Beck's 16th season as music director of the Lima Symphony Orchestra. He also serves as music director of the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to the Lima Symphony's regularly scheduled concerts, Mr. Beck's many activities include the annual educational full-orchestra concerts for middle schools children throughout the region, and he also shares the stage each year with other Lima Symphony musicians in elementary schools as part of the Lima Symphony's In-School programs. Mr. Beck shares administration duties of the Lima Symphony with his colleague, Executive Director Marie Drum.

In addition to serving as music director of the Mississippi Symphony and the Lima Symphony, Mr. Beck also appears as a guest conductor with orchestras across the country and has performed with more than 30 American orchestras including the Milwaukee Symphony, the Oregon Symphony, the New World Symphony, the New Mexico Symphony, the Delaware Symphony, the Memphis Symphony, the Arkansas Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony, the Dayton Philharmonic, the Kansas City Symphony, and the Florida Orchestra.

Mr. Beck earned his undergraduate degree and his master's degree at The Ohio State University in Columbus, and a doctorate in conducting from the Cincinnati College -Conservatory of Music.

In the six years he worked with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, he arranged more than 50 selections which have appeared on that orchestra's many recordings. Most of these appeared on the Billboard Classical/Crossover charts for best-selling albums, and two of those albums received Grammy Award nominations.