Omaha Symphony Guild History

1957 - The Omaha Symphony Guild was organized by the Junior League of Omaha to promote growth and development of the Omaha Symphony Orchestra and to cooperate with the Omaha Symphony Association in all related activities.

1958 - The Youth Orchestra was organized for young musicians from Omaha and surrounding towns. Concert Previews were initiated with Conductor Joseph Levine.

1961 - Concerts for Youth were established to provide 4th, 5th and 6th grade youths an opportunity to attend a Symphony concert at the Orpheum Theater programmed especially for these grade levels.

1966 - Omaha Symphony Debutante Ball was established as an annual fund-raising event traditionally held on December 27. The Grace Notes was published to keep Guild members informed of Symphony and Guild activities.

1971 - In-School Ensembles were established to provide ensemble concerts to schools.

1974 - Music Study Circles were started for individuals interested in learning more about symphonic music.

1975 - Omaha Symphony Designer Showhouse was established in cooperation with the Nebraska-Iowa Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers as a major fund-raiser project.

1976 - Young Artist Competition was established to encourage young talent. New Music Competition was established for composers of chamber music.

1977 - Explorer Concerts for kindergarten through fourth grade age children were held for three years.

1978 - The Special Audiences education program was started to provide concert experiences for students with learning and physical disabilities and to promote attendance among senior citizens.

1982 - Guild Touring Trust Fund was established to provide seed money to rural communities to purchase Chamber concerts.

1983 - The Omaha Symphony Radiothon was undertaken in cooperation with KYNN to test community support for another major fundraising event.

1984 - Docent program was started to aid in the preparation of students attending the Concerts for Youth.

1985 - Symphony Symposium, later called Backstage, was initiated as an after-hours organization for individuals interested in learning more about symphonic music. Magic Carpet Concerts were started to offer concert experiences to children in pre-school through first grade.

1986 - “Celebrate Creativity,” the Lorin Hollander Residency, was sponsored in cooperation with the Omaha Symphony Association.

1987 - Orpheum Concert Previews were established for Symphony concertgoers. KVNO began broadcasting the Preview Teas taped by Frank Bramhall. A Bylaw change extended Guild membership to males.

1988 -“The Gavel Club” was founded and Honorary Membership was given to Past Guild Presidents.

1989 - Established a Long-Range Planning Committee for the OSG.

1990 - Established “ENCORE!”, a post-concert dialogue involving concertgoers, the conductor, musicians and the guest artist. Initiated financial support for the Omaha Area Youth Orchestra Minority Scholarship program.

1991 - Established Music Mentor Program which brings young musicians together with Omaha Symphony musicians for a day of workshops and performance.

1992 - Established Vice-President of Administration of OSG executive committee. First Instrument Petting Zoo.

1993 - Gave equal rights to chairmen and associates.

1994 - Re-established Advocacy Board Position.

1995 - Pledged forward funding for the 1996-97 Family Concert Series.

1996 - Pledged forward funding for the 1996-97 Choral Collaborative.

1997 - Celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the Omaha Symphony Guild by reestablishing the tradition of opening night parties with “First Night Finale” in conjunction with the Itzhak Perlman gala concert.

1999 - Marked the 25th Showhouse with a Silver Anniversary Celebration uniting past designers’ Chairmen and Guild Chairmen Associates.

2000 - Moved the Designer Showhouse to an autumn time frame and set new records with a newly-constructed technological dream house.

2003 - Created website for the Omaha Symphony Guild. Had a new fundraiser “Meet Michael Feinstein”, a champagne and dessert reception following the opening concert of the 2002-03 SuperPops Series. Redesigned Grace Notes – the Guild’s quarterly newsletter. Showcased Rhapsody Revealed as the 2002 OmahaSymphony/ASID Designer Showhouse. (Over 12,000 guests toured the former Renstrom mansion.) Contributed a total of $220,500 to the Omaha Symphony and associated orchestral activities.

2005 - Developed a unique collaboration with the University of NE Medical Center, the Office of International Health Care Services, ASID and the Symphony Guild for the 2005 Showhouse, Harmony for Hope-The Potter s House, an interim living quarters for UNMC transplant patients and their families during their treatment. Most of all the furnishings were purchased by UNMC and remained in the house when the showhouse public viewing ended.

The Debutante Ball provided a record income of $137,000 and was combined with the other guild fundraising profits to make the guild s total contribution to the Omaha Symphony Association of $218,500.

2006 - Donated a total of $195,000 to the Omaha Symphony, OAYO Scholarship Fund, and the new Musician Tribute Fund. Introduced three new fundraisers in lieu of Designers’ Showhouse: 2005 Table Art; 2006 Designer Derby; and 2005-06 Panera “Dough for Funds.” Began recognition of the birthdays of each of the Musicians with a coupon from Panera Bread Company, part of the partnership with the Guild and Panera Bread. Began planning a recognition dinner for the Symphony Musicians from the Guild. Began holding Board meetings in the community room in a partnership with Security National Bank.

2007 - Celebrated 50th year. Framed Proclamation presented to Guild designating April 22, 2007 as Omaha Symphony Guild Day by Mayor Mike Fahey. Helped launch New Music Symposium, a new educational program for college-age composers.

2008 - Held Table Art at Livestock Exchange Building with Barbara Ohrbach as featured speaker. Debutante Ball had a record year. Designer Derby and Home Tour were held with the Past Presidents as Honorary Chairs. Started a new fundraiser called Music & Masterpieces.

2009 - Table Art “Rhapsody Into Spring” focused on the past history of Omaha and the Guild. The presenting sponsor, Borsheim’s provided our guest speaker, Lord Wedgewood. It was also the 50th Anniversary for OAYO.

2010 - Fall 2009 Music & Masterpieces, a collaborative effort with the Rockbrook Merchants Association, was held. Blizzard conditions threatened to cancel the Debutante Ball, yet the evening was a grand success. Table Art 2010, held at the Marriott for a capacity crowd, featured the founder of Annieglass, as well as tables featuring place settings owned by families of historical significance in the Omaha area.

2011 - Membership was up by 100! Music & Masterpieces was in collaboration with Marian Holden/Designer’s Touch. Table Art moved to the Georgetowne Club with a fabulous Preview Party. MacKenzie-Childs’ Mark Bergadon was featured speaker. After 2 years of a downward trend, participation in education programs is up 10%. Our financial pledge was increased and exceeded.

2012 - Membership remained at a high level and new areas of collaboration with the Omaha Symphony Association came about from joint efforts of the new CEO and President. Musician interaction increased and culminated with a yearend appreciation party. Fundraising surpassed $230,000, an increase of 50% from the previous year. This included a successful Debutante Ball and a newly designed pendant to accompany it. Music and Masterpieces began a "Monster Masquerade" Halloween party. Spring brought Table Art featuring Waterford Crystal at The Happy Hollow Club. The website got a facelift and the use of document storage via Google Drive was initiated for the benefit of future Boards.

2013 - Fundraising surpassed our budgeted goal and we were able to give $195,000 to support the Symphony's Education programs, which reach over 30,000 area youth. The Debutante Ball was a grand success. A new collaboration with the Symphony for "Windows on Farnam" gave us great publicity with a gorgeous window display over the holidays at Midtown Crossing. Spring brought Table Art, featuring Julia Knight at the Happy Hollow Club. The success of Table Art continues to grow each year.

2014 - Additional guild board positions were created and the Table Art Committee members doubled. The venue for Table Art was changed to a larger space, accommodating more Omaha designer and Omaha family historical tables. The logo and colors of Table Art were carried throughout the year. Michael Aram, the guest designer, received outstanding reviews for his presence and lecture at the event. The event was nominated for the Metro Magazine, “Big Event” under the speaker category. An additional event was added to the Guild fundraising with Table Art, an Underwriting Tea. Guests could help underwrite Michael Aram pieces for the Table Art silent auction. The Guild past presidents were the honorary chairs. They contributed baskets to the silent auction and created a historical table for the event. The summer kickoff was brought back, inviting members to sign up for educational programs for the upcoming year.

2015 - The success of the Omaha Symphony Guild continues. Table Art was immensely enjoyable. The artist was Juliska and the event netted over $50,000. Table Art was also honored nationally at the League of American Orchestra meeting, in Cleveland, by being awarded the prestigious "Gold Book" award. Another notable event was the archiving of the Omaha Symphony Guild's memorabilia. The UNO Library Archives is now the home of the Omaha Symphony Guild's historic items. The Guild items will be accessible for public viewing and will also be available for larger public displays. This year was a wonderful year for the Debutante Ball committee, which hosted the exciting Lizzie Post luncheon. 2015 also celebrates the 50th year of the Omaha Symphony Debutante Ball.

2016 - Table Art 2016 was held at Baxter Arena to accommodate the growing attendance at this celebrated event. The event’s speaker was Mariposa’s Founder, Livia Cowan. Both Membership and Fund-Raising goals were surpassed. The Guild presented a check to OAYO for $5,000 and a check to the Omaha Symphony for $282,000 to support their Education Programs. The Guild’s Bylaws were revised.

2017 - The Summer kick-off was held at the home of Kathy Gross to welcome current and new Guild Members. Our holiday party was combined with a sneak peak of Table Art at the home of Suzanne Kotula. Throughout the year our Guild volunteered their time at various Symphony youth programs. Our major fundraiser, Table Art, was held at the newly renovated Omaha Design Center and featured Nora Napientek, the founder of Nora Fleming tableware. We closed out our guild year with our annual meeting and luncheon at Happy Hollow Club where we were able to present the Omaha Symphony and OAYO a total of $140,000 to support their youth educational programs.