The Arapahoe Philharmonic was founded in 1953, by T. Gordon Parks, a young orchestra director at Englewood High School. Its original name was Englewood Symphony, created to provide a cultural experience for the people of the South Metro Denver region. In 1959, the Englewood Symphony changed its name to the Community Arts Symphony and featured renowned guest artists from around the world in the years to come. In 1962, the Community Arts Symphony’s first engagement with youth through music began with the creation of the Community Arts Junior Symphony. The orchestra changed to its current name, Arapahoe Philharmonic, on its 35th Anniversary.
Over the years, Gordon’s vision of making great music and creating community continued until 1992, when after forty years of devoted leadership, he passed away and Vincent C. LaGuardia, Jr. was named Conductor and Music Director.
Under LaGuardia’s passionate love for music and love of family, the orchestra’s tradition of education was continued for the next 20 years, with the founding of the Arapahoe Philharmonic Youth Orchestra in 1998, with side-by-side concerts mentoring high school musicians, with the annual Children’s Concerts, and with coaching for school students and competitions. Until his passing in 2012, Maestro LaGuardia continued to build the orchestra through challenging music, education and performance opportunities.
To feature outstanding college-aged musicians as soloists with the orchestra, the regional Collegiate Solo Competition was created in 1967, now known as the T. Gordon Parks Concerto Competition. Similarly, the orchestra has recognized young talent in the conducting and composition fields nationwide since 2013 through the Vincent C. LaGuardia, Jr. Conducting and Composition Competitions.
Devin Patrick Hughes, Music Director and Conductor of the Arapahoe Philharmonic since 2013, continues this great musical legacy, taking the Arapahoe Philharmonic to even greater heights in artistic quality and innovation. Under his leadership, the Arapahoe Philharmonic has attracted some of the finest players in the region to perform repertoire spanning from the great standards of the orchestral literature to new works commissioned by the orchestra.
The Arapahoe Philharmonic celebrated its first 65 years in 2018 and looks forward to the musical adventures yet to come “for the love of music”. We hope you join us on our journey!