Columbus Pro Musica was incorporated in 1970 to promote and encourage an active interest in music in the community and to reactivate the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. Over the years, Pro Musica became more of a presenting organization so that in 1987 the Board of Directors reaffirmed the original mission with an emphasis on a community orchestra of outstanding quality. David Bowden was hired as Music Director, the name was changed to the Pro Musica Orchestra, and the first concert was given on September 19, 1987 with Irwin Union Bank as corporate sponsor. Because of confusion in the industry over the name (“pro musica” means early music or a chamber-size ensemble) and another Columbus Pro Musica in Columbus, Ohio, there was another name change in 1995 to Columbus Indiana Philharmonic (= CIP).
The CIP has thrived on a partnership of the best musicians from Columbus and the surrounding region as well as talented students from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. The Philharmonic Chorus has been an integral part of the organization since 1987. The non-auditioned group includes singers from high school age through senior citizens.
In the 1988-1989 season, the CIP began performing annual Adventure Concerts for 4,000 area third and fourth graders. It was also in 1989 when the Music for Youth Strings program began with after-school instruction for students. In 1991 a choral component was added to the youth program, and in 1996, a collaboration was formed with the renowned Indianapolis Children’s Choir when the Columbus Indiana Children’s Choir began. The 1993-1994 season brought the Philharmonic Youth Ensemble and Youth Orchestra into existence. With the belief that “making music changes lives,” in 1996, Millie Reeves established an endowment fund specifically for Philharmonic musicians to teach strings classes at Fodrea and Lincoln Elementary Schools.
The CIP and David Bowden have received local, state, national and international recognition. The Orchestra has performed at the Governor’s Arts Awards Ceremony in the State Capitol. The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) have recognized the Philharmonic with 5 national awards. The CIP’s 1996 CD on the Naxos label with Dan McKinley playing First Christian Church’s Aeolian-Skinner organ received excellent reviews.
The staff has worked hard to achieve its goals of making this both a top-rate orchestra and an important component in the area’s quality of life. With strong support from area individuals, foundations and businesses, those goals have been met each year since 1987. In order to maintain financial stability, an endowment fund was established by Paul and Karen Berman and is managed by The Heritage Fund. As of 2007, the endowment had $1.2 Million. Phase two, with a goal of $3 Million, will be announced during the 20th anniversary season.
Salute! - a concert conceived by Harry McCawley, Associate Editor of The Republic, to honor area veterans, armed forces personnel and their families - was first performed on Memorial Day Weekend, 2000. Staged at the Memorial for Veterans on the Bartholomew County Courthouse lawn, Salute! is a gift to the community from the CIP and the sponsors.
In 2003 the CIP moved from its office in The Commons to 315 Franklin Street , a facility originally used as the Carter Chicken Hatchery and later by Cummins Inc. Thanks to the generosity of Bob and Helen Haddad and Cummins Inc., the 5,000 square foot building provides space for staff, music lessons, storage and meetings.
The Philharmonic Board and Staff work hard to be good stewards of the mission and the funds entrusted to them by the community. The growth of the organization since 1987 is proof that the people who call this area home are proud of the CIPc and of its success.