Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra

The Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra is an American orchestra based in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The orchestra's primary concert venues are the Embassy Theatre and the Auer Performance Hall at Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW). The orchestra's current Music Director is Andrew Constantine.


The Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1944, and gave its first concert on October 18, 1944, at the Palace Theatre. The first music director was the German-born Hans Schwieger (1907-2000). Under Schwieger's direction, the orchestra featured such soloists as William Kapell, Yehudi Menuhin, and Mario Lanza.[1]

In the summer of 1948, Igor Buketoff became the orchestra's second music director, and served in the post until 1966, the longest serving music director to date. Successive music directors have been James Sample (1967-1970) and Thomas Briccetti (1970-1977). From 1978 to 1993, the orchestra's music director was Ronald Ondrejka (1932-2016). During Ondrejka's tenure, the orchestra’s budget tripled in size, and new programming initiatives included regular collaboration with the Fort Wayne Ballet.[2]

Edvard Tchivzhel succeeded Ondrejka as music director in 1993, and served in the post until the end of the 2007-08 season.[3]  Jaime Laredo served as artistic advisor for the 2008-09 season, in the absence of a full-time music director. The English conductor Andrew Constantine was named the orchestra's next music director in July 2009. His current contract with the orchestra is through 2020.[4][5]  

Since 1980, the orchestra has won five awards for adventuresome programming from ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers). The Fort Wayne Philharmonic Chorus is affiliated with the orchestra, and its current director is Benjamin Rivera.

In addition, a chamber orchestra from the full Philharmonic has performed summer concerts. Members of the orchestra have also participated in the "Summer Symphony", founded by Joseph M. Woods in 1956, who played with the Philharmonic from 1948 to 1950. Concerts have taken place at the Foellinger Theatre in Franke Park, led by former principal trombonist David Cooke.

Broadcasts and recordings

Tchivzhel and the orchestra recorded a commercial CD at the Honeywell Center in Wabash, which includes Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 and Richard Strauss' symphonic poem Don Juan. Broadcasts of selected orchestra concerts are relayed on WBNI, 94.1 FM.

The Philharmonic made a new commercial recording during a concert in the Auer Performance Hall at IPFW on March 18, 2018, devoted to three works by the Austrian-American composer Walter Bricht (1904-1970).[6]

Music Directors

  • Hans Schwieger (1944–1948)[7]
  • Igor Buketoff (1948–1966)
  • James Sample (1967–1970)
  • Thomas Briccetti (1970–1977)
  • Ronald Ondrejka (1978–1993)
  • Edvard Tchivzhel (1993–2008)
  • Andrew Constantine (2010–present)[8]

Executive directors (partial list)

  • Peter Smith (1976–1985)
  • Christopher D. Guerin (1985–2005)
  • Daniel Ross (interim, 2005–2006)
  • J.L. Nave (2006–2014)
  • James Palermo (2015-present)


  2. Rosa Salter Rodriguez (2016-04-16). "Retired Phil conductor Ondrejka, 83, dies". The Journal Gazette. Retrieved 2016-05-06.
  3. History of Fort Wayne & Allen County, Indiana, Vol. I, pgs 234–236 (Evansville, Indiana: M.T. Publishing Company, Inc., 2006)
  4. "The Fort Wayne Philharmonic Announces Music Director Andrew Constantine Contract Extension" (Press release). Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra. 15 December 2015. Retrieved 2016-05-06.
  5. "Philharmonic extends Constantine to 2020". The Journal Gazette. 2015-12-12. Retrieved 2016-05-06.
  7. History of Fort Wayne & Allen County, Indiana, Vol. I, pp 234–236
  8. Steve Warden (2014-10-18). "Inside Philharmonic rehearsal". The Journal Gazette. Retrieved 2016-05-06.

Note on sources

Eyewitness accounts by Robert E. Nylund form part of the reference material for this article.

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