The Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra grew out of concerts sponsored by the Fortnightly Music Club between 1908 and 1911. Enthusiasm grew, and in 1911, the Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra (GPO) was established. According to an early program, its “motive” was to provide pleasure and profit for local musicians, to give young people an opportunity for orchestral training and “to aid in raising the musical standards in our city.” In time, it evolved into the cornerstone of Greeley’s cultural structure. Although the founders of the GPO first set out to create a small yet viable community orchestra, the GPO has developed into a 65-piece professional orchestra that draws some of the most accomplished musicians from Northern Colorado and beyond.
With the hiring of current music director/conductor Glen Cortese in 2007, the GPO has dedicated its future to continuing the vast legacy of its founders and will strive to fulfill its mission to our loyal community. Performing in the 1,700 seat Union Colony Civic Center’s Monfort Concert Hall for the past 25 years enables the GPO to present music in an acoustically and aesthetically advantageous venue, building on its long legacy of artistic excellence. By serving over four generations of music patrons, the GPO has endured for 103 years as the major force in the community’s cultural and artistic development. Many guest artists have graced the GPO’s stage and added to its legacy including Isaac Stern, Jerome Hines, Jose Feliciano, Marvin Hamlisch, John Musto, and Peter Schickele. The GPO’s continuous and superior orchestral work has drawn praise throughout the region.
Incorporated in 1945, the GPO began to expand cultural educational opportunities for children of all ages. This remains a distinctive change from the GPO’s humble start, but an important element of the GPO’s current mission. The GPO realizes that Greeley, with its ever-changing demographics and its identification as an enterprise zone in 2003, must have continued access to cultural opportunities and educational programming.
The GPO has endured during the turmoil of enormous national economic challenges, The Great Depression, and two world wars. Over its 103 year history the GPO has been led by only five conductors, one of whom, Dr. Howard Skinner, held the baton for an astonishing 36 years. Its longevity and fortitude are a true testament to the GPO’s continuity of leadership, dedication to incredible musicianship, enthusiastic support from its community, and ultimately its ability to allow music to transcend the times while offering its community much needed cultural experiences. The GPO is proud of its history and is committed to continuing the tradition into its second century.