Tracing its roots back to the city’s first professional orchestra in 1924, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic formed in 1988 under the musical direction of Joel Levine with the help of dedicated civic leaders and corporations. In 2018, Alexander Mickelthwate was named the second music director of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic.
Throughout the years, the orchestra has performed a diverse selection of music with many different stars. The Oklahoma City Philharmonic has appeared on PBS with Michael Martin Murphey in a performance titled “Sagebrush Symphony” for the nationally syndicated program “Austin City Limits.” Kathie Lee Gifford chose the OKC PHIL to perform for her internationally broadcast CBS Christmas special “Just in Time for Christmas.” Guest artists have included Itzhak Perlman, Amy Grant, Yo Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Tony Bennett, Olivia Newton-John, Bebe Neuwirth, Sir James Galway, Chris Botti, Renee Fleming and most recently Kristin Chenoweth, Kelli O’Hara, Pink Martini, and Ben Folds.
In September 2001, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic opened its season in the newly renovated Civic Center Music Hall. One of the Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPS), this $52.2 million renovation saw the complete reconstruction of the performance chamber into the Thelma Gaylord Performing Arts Theatre. The theatre is transformable from a concert hall into a Broadway theatre house and maintains state-of-the-art acoustics in any configuration.
Throughout its history, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic has maintained a strong commitment to enhancing music education. Through a variety of education programs, the OKC PHIL impacts more than 35,000 individuals annually.
Each music director has impacted the future of professional orchestra in Oklahoma City. To read more about each period in our history, click the links below.
Oklahoma City Symphony
Oklahoma Federal Symphony / Oklahoma Symphony Orchestra
- Ralph Rose (1937-1938)
- Victor Alessandro (1938-1951)
- Guy Fraser Harrison (1951-1973)
- Ray Luke (1973-1974)
- Ainslee Cox (1974-1978)
- Luis Herrera de la Fuente (1978-1988)
Oklahoma City Philharmonic
- Joel Levine (1988-2018)
- Alexander Mickelthwate (2018-present)