New exhibit celebrates 50 years of the symphony!

The Del Webb Sun Cities Museum has opened a new exhibit celebrating the 50th anniversary of the West Valley Symphony.

Originally known as the Sun City Symphony, the orchestra was founded in 1968 by Lillian and Jennings Butterfield. The orchestra – at the time the only professional symphonic orchestra operating in a retirement community – held its first concert on Nov. 24, 1968 at Mountain View Auditorium.

The orchestra would later move to the Sundome Center in Sun City West and become the Sun Cities Symphony Orchestra before changing its name to the West Valley Symphony.

The orchestra will kick off its 50th anniversary season 3 p.m. Nov. 18 with a concert at Valley Vista Performing Arts Center in Surprise.

The new exhibit features a detailed history of the organization — including a look at conductors over the year, the venues where concerts have been held and the guest artists who have performed with the symphony. There is also a video of a performance by the current orchestra conducted by Maestro Cal Stewart Kellogg.

Museum Trustee Ed Allen, left, welcome members of the symphony board of trustees during the opening of the new exhibit. From left, Ed Allen, Barbara Lashmet, secretary of the symphony board; Maestro Cal Stewart Kellogg; Larry Vering, president of the symphony board of trustees; Catherine Leas, symphony trustee.