The Wheeling Symphony Orchestra gave its premiere concert at Oglebay Park on June 30, 1929. Under the direction of Enrico Tamburini, the new orchestra performed Mozart’s Overture to Don Juan and Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony, among other works.
Tamburini molded the fledgling group of amateurs and professionals into a cohesive ensemble. When he left in 1934, Antonio Modarelli of the Pittsburgh Symphony took the baton. He was succeeded by Henry Mazer, who’d tutored under the great conductor Fritz Reiner in Chicago.
Mazer expanded the Wheeling Symphony’s repertoire to feature opera, choral works, and chamber music, as well as guest performances by Yehudi Menuhin, Benny Goodman, and Artur Rubinstein.
Later conductors included Henry Aaron; Robert Kreis, who instituted the symphony’s first concert tours in 1971; and Jeff Holland Cook, who brought in a number of guest celebrities, including Arthur Fiedler, Doc Severinsen, Itzhak Perlman, and Wheeling-born opera star Eleanor Steber. He was succeeded by Rachael Worby, who increased the symphony’s number of annual performances from 6 to 40.
The Wheeling Symphony, whose current conductor is Andre Raphel, continues to perform regularly at the Capitol Music Hall in downtown Wheeling.