The Mission of the Eugene Symphony Guild shall be to promote the Eugene Symphony through fundraising, educational programs, and volunteer services.
The Eugene Symphony Guild shall be an integral part of the promotion of symphonic music and music education in our community.
In accomplishing our mission, we value:
- Promoting the enjoyment of symphonic music for adults and youth in our community.
- Working together to raise money for the Eugene Symphony—to put the “fun” in fundraising!
- Providing a welcoming and supportive environment for members to make friends and form lasting friendships.
- Cultivating our own and others’ education about and appreciation of symphonic music.
In the 1960s, Betty Soreng was a member of the Eugene Junior League “project finding” committee. The Junior League’s goal was to launch new projects that would benefit our community by using League members, training, and funds.
Betty met with Catherine Lauris and Caroline Boekelheide to discuss forming a women’s group that would help support the Eugene Symphony. They agreed to develop a plan and proceed.
In 1965 the League started to develop a Women’s Committee that would function as a fundraising arm of the Symphony. In 1967, Betty Soreng became the first president of the Women’s Committee. Subsequently, the Women’s Committee formed the Eugene Symphony Guild with a board and by-laws, and registered the Guild as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with the IRS and the State of Oregon. Membership dues that first year were $2.
The Symphony performed three free concerts in 1965-1966. Their first full season in 1966-1967 included four free concerts. Larry Maves and Nathan Commack conducted two concerts each. The Symphony was composed of 55 players and performed at North Eugene High School. The annual budget was $9,000; admission was $1.75 per concert, and a season subscription sold for $6.00.
Education as well as fundraising were (and still are) important to the Women’s Committee and remain a key focus of the Guild. The first Youth Concert was given at the South Eugene High School gymnasium during the Christmas season of 1966 and was organized by Carolyn Cockrell. The next Youth Concert, featuring Ronald McDonald and given at the Family Festival in 1975, met its income goal of $1,500.
Pre-concert teas were given to educate adult concert goers. These early teas evolved into noon Concert Previews offered the day before each concert. The Concert Previews are now held at 7:00 PM the evening of the concert, in the Studio at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts.
The Eugene Symphony Guild’s first big fundraiser was the Gala Fashion Show at the Country Squire. Couples paid $15 to attend. The second Gala was held in the halls of Valley River Center during the evening with musical groups playing.
Other Guild fundraisers through the years have included a Musical Marathon, the Concours d’Elegance at the Village Green, Symphony Runs, Christmas Walks, Spring Serenade Fashion Shows, Holiday Kitchen Tours, Cabarets, Music in the Garden, and Musical Chairs events.
To view a short video about the Guild, click here.