Admission to all concerts is free!
No Strings Attached except those to the instruments
50 Year History of Southwest Washington Symphony

It started with a dream…
Dr. Marion Clark had played in and conducted pit orchestras for several musicals in Longview but wanted to do more and have a different challenge.  His dream was to start a symphony orchestra and in the summer of 1966 he shared that dream with Irv Gattiker.
 50th Anniversary
And to that dream was added talent…
Irv Gattiker was already an accomplished conductor, starting the RA Long orchestra in 1945.  He and Dr. Clark drew up a list of players they knew would be able to play in the symphony.  He met with a five-man symphony board consisting of violinists Bill Watson and Janet Freiberg, Dr. Clark, trumpeter Bob Warren and bassoonist Dick Wollenberg.  Auditions were held, members selected and rehearsal began.
And from that talent a symphony was born…
60-plus members took their places at the R. A. Long Auditorium on April 25, 1967 as the Southwest Washington Civic Symphony.  They performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with soloist Bela Siki, Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus and Moussorsky’s Great Gate of Kiev before an audience of 1000.  When Siki finished the Beethoven, the audience erupted, but instead of thanking them first, he congratulated Gattiker, the orchestra and then the audience.  The adventure had begun.       
And it grew to include…
The success of the April concert cemented the resolve to have a symphony and plans were already underway for the 1967-68 season.  The three concert series would include a purely orchestral one in November, with a guest artist in February, and, after auditions in January and February of high school and college students, the April concert would include a young artist performing with the symphony. 
And grows to this day…
Irv Gattiker and Dr. Clark are now gone, but their dream still lives on.  It has taken countless hours of practice, many musicians, different venues, fund raising and commitment.  With the addition of a Christmas benefit concert, there are now 4 concerts a year.  The Young Artist concerts continue to this day and some of those players have joined our Symphony.  From Irv Gattiker’s years as conductor (1967-1973) to George Simonsen (1973-2003), to Ryan Heller (2003-2013) and currently Robert Davis, (2013-present) leadership has changed but the outcome is the same – volunteers giving of their time and talent to express their love of music and share it with the community. 
 From the November 14, 1966 Daily News, Irv Gattiker stressed three aspects of the new orchestra – its professional nature, its intention to play popular works, and the low admission prices.
“It is our aim to attract families to the concerts,” Gattiker said.  “We would rather have 800 people and make $400 than have 400 people and make $800.”
In keeping with Gattiker’s vision, and to encourage concert attendance, we are offering free admission to all concerts in this, our 53rd season.