ORCHESTRA HISTORY

The Troy Metro Symphony Orchestra began with the vision of one man, Leonard Holliday.

Mr. Holliday loved Jesus and had a desire to gather together an orchestra of volunteer musicians who could use their God-given talents for the glory of the Lord. So in 2005, after a life of studying and teaching music and the Bible, at age 77, Mr. Holliday began the first step in establishing an orchestra … He created the Orion Chamber Music Society String Camp, a week-long intensive music camp where young people were challenged to improve their musical skills for God’s glory. It was Mr. Holliday’s desire that the String Camp musicians would become equipped for ministry in the local church and community. After a successful inaugural summer string camp, Mr. Holliday invited many of those young musicians, as well as adult musicians in the area, to play the following fall in his brand-new chamber ensemble - the Orion Chamber Music Society (OCMS, which would later become known as TMSO). He vigorously recruited musicians in the Detroit-metro area … not only adults, but also accomplished high school and college students to be in the ensemble. Mr. Holliday especially had a heart for young people and enthusiastically encouraged them on their musical journey during their time in the orchestra. Mr. Holliday was OCMS’s first music director, and his vision of bringing glory to God through performing classical and sacred music reflecting God’s beauty and order had finally become a reality.

The Orion Chamber Music Society began Saturday morning rehearsals at First Baptist Church of Lake Orion. Its inaugural concerts took place on the weekend of January 6th and 7th, 2006, at First Baptist Church of Troy and First Baptist Church of Lake Orion. The program included one of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, as well as some sacred pieces and a lively march. About eighty percent of the ensemble was made up of young string camp musicians, and the rest were local adult musicians (some of whom still play in the orchestra to this day!).

Mr. Holliday was an educator at heart, and he always shared information about repertoire, composers, and instruments with the audience at each concert so they could be more attentive and involved listeners. In his trademark dynamic style, Mr. Holliday explained melodies and harmonies to listen for, even asking the audience to sing phrases so they would know what was coming up. He made sure the program at each concert included both sacred hymns and classical repertoire, and he also featured soloists (both from the orchestra and professional musicians from the area) in concerto literature… exposing the community and orchestra members to so many great symphonies and other orchestral classics. As a “teaching orchestra,” TMSO has continued this practice of educating its audiences at concerts over the years.

During the next decade, the orchestra presented both solo & ensemble recitals and full-orchestra concerts throughout each year. Also, on several occasions, OCMS commissioned various composers to write original pieces for the orchestra (Tim Fisher’s “My Savior’s Love,” Stephen Lounsbrough’s “Melodious Still,” Douglas Byler’s “Lauda Anima / Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven”). On September 26, 2014, OCMS performed a special commissioned piece by Dr. Seth Custer, “I Shall Know Him,” (one of Mr. Holliday’s favorite hymns) as a tribute to Mr. Holliday after he directed the orchestra for his final concert. After 10 years of leading OCMS, Mr. Holliday and his wife retired to South Carolina, and the orchestra said goodbye to its servant-hearted founder.

The next music director to pick up OCMS’s baton in the spring of 2015 was Ben Klaus, the then-pastor of Gibraltar Bible Baptist Church. Under new direction, the orchestra moved its now-weekly Friday evening rehearsals south - to First Baptist Church of Troy (which is still the home-base for TMSO rehearsals to this day). Over the next three years, Pastor Ben tirelessly recruited musicians in the surrounding communities, growing the orchestra in number. During this time, OCMS performed widely across the Detroit-metro area, even traveling as far as Imlay City and Grand Rapids. Pastor Ben also selected more community concert venues (such as the Somerset Mall) to expand the orchestra’s presence in the Troy-metro community.

In June 2018, the orchestra’s new name, Troy Metro Symphony Orchestra, was unveiled. The name was chosen to better reflect the community where TMSO met to rehearse and perform as well as the growth of the orchestra from a small chamber ensemble into a larger community orchestra.

Following an invigorating spring 2019 concert season, TMSO fondly bid farewell to Pastor Ben as he moved on to pursue new pastoral duties.

TMSO began the search for a new music director, and the 2019-2020 concert season was spent under the baton of guest conductors.

Not to be deterred by the COVID shutdown in 2020, TMSO continued to put on small chamber ensemble concerts in the Troy-Metro area with its Brass & Woodwind Quintets for the 2020-2021 season.

In fall 2021, the full orchestra began meeting again for rehearsals with its new musical director (and previous spring 2020 guest conductor), John Swedberg. (Mr. Holliday actually taught him violin!). Under his leadership, the orchestra persevered during a time when many other musical ensembles still struggled to meet in-person. TMSO attracted appreciative audiences in Ypsilanti, Rochester, Troy, Davison, and Sterling Heights during the 2021-2022 concert season. The orchestra was also invited to play for fundraising events for Child Evangelism Fellowship and Right to Life. In spring 2022, Mr. Swedberg stepped down as TMSO’s musical director to pursue a doctorate out of state.

Once again, TMSO has begun the search for a new director. Guest conductors will be at the helm for the 2022-2023 concert season as TMSO looks forward to a bright future in the supportive and welcoming Troy-metro community.

Psalm 69:30 “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.”