The Symphony of Southeast Texas, formerly the Beaumont Symphony Orchestra, was founded by the Beaumont Symphony Society in 1953. The first performance, held on May 12th of that year, was the start of the Beaumont Symphony Society's mission to advance and promote a further appreciation of symphonic music, and to present student concerts to further the musical education of the region.
The Symphony of Southeast Texas has enjoyed the fine musical leadership of conductors Jay Dietzer, Edvard Fendler, Dr. Joseph Carlucci, Diane Wittry, Christopher Zimmerman, and Chelsea Tipton, II. Also a faculty member of Lamar University, Dr. Carlucci (Music Director/Conductor from 1971-1990) helped the orchestra forge an ongoing and mutually beneficial relationship with that university. Ms. Wittry (Music Director/Conductor from 1991-2000) had a strong commitment to arts education that greatly expanded the Symphony's educational programming. Under her guidance, the Symphony initiated the Side-By-Side program for talented middle and high school musicians, in collaboration with Lamar University, Adopt-A-Musician sessions in elementary school classrooms throughout southeast Texas, and Meet the Composer residencies. Christopher Zimmerman served as Music Director from 2001-2007.
Chelsea Tipton was appointed Music Director and Conductor effective with the 2009-2010 Symphony season. He graduated from Eastman School of Music in 1986 with a Bachelor of Music degree in Music and obtained his Master's at the Northern Illinois University. Maestro Tipton came to the SOST after serving 7 seasons as resident conductor with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra.
The Symphony of Southeast Texas is supported by hundreds of individuals and businesses from throughout the Southeast Texas region as well as by the Southeast Texas Arts Council and the Texas Commission on the Arts. Its season includes four Master Series Concerts plus a Pops Concert, a Holiday concert, four free Youth Concerts for area students, and a free Fourth of July concert in conjunction with the City of Beaumont's July 4th activities.
The Symphony's 70-member Board of Directors is comprised of civic and business leaders from the Golden Triangle region. The Symphony's administrative staff includes an Executive Director, an Administrative Assistant, and a Director of Operations.
The Symphony of Southeast Texas contracts approximately 65 musicians who audition for their positions and are paid for all season rehearsals and performances. Symphony musicians come from communities throughout Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana. Many of the orchestra's principal musicians are on the faculty of Lamar University and several Lamar University students who perform in the orchestra receive Symphony scholarships.
The Symphony of Southeast Texas is supported by the state and national award-winning Symphony League of Beaumont. The League provides generous financial support to the Symphony as well as logistical support for educational programming and concert production. Open to any person interested in working on behalf of the Symphony of Southeast Texas, the Symphony League of Beaumont boasts a membership of over 500 people.
Our very own Symphony of Southeast Texas Chorus made its debut with Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, Ode to Joy, at Maestra Diane Wittry's farewell performance October 26, 2000. The Symphony of Southeast Texas Chorus also performs at our Holiday concert and in our Master Series Finale.
The 2000-2001 season marked the groundbreaking affiliation of The Symphony of Southeast Texas and the Southeast Texas Youth Symphony. Founded in 1983, the Southeast Texas Youth Symphony serves as a training ground for the area's exceptionally talented young musicians. The organization is comprised of students from Jefferson, Hardin, Orange, and Jasper Counties. As the area's only full youth orchestra, (including strings, winds, and percussion,) the Southeast Texas Youth Symphony is designed to enhance the school music programs. Students are afforded the opportunity to perform great works from the standard orchestra repertoire in an encouraging and educational setting.
Southeast Texas region as well as by the Southeast Texas Arts Council and the Texas Commission on the Arts. Its season includes four Master Series Concerts plus a Pops Concert, a Holiday concert, four free Youth Concerts for area students, and a free Fourth of July concert in conjunction with the City of Beaumont's July 4th activities.