• Artistic Directors
  • Musicians
  • Staff & Board
  • Mission & History
  • Auditions & Careers
  • Community Impact

Julia Tai JULIA TAI, Music Director

Praised by the Seattle Times as “poised yet passionate,” Julia Tai is one of today’s most dynamic young conductors on the international stage. Currently, she is the Music Director of Missoula Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Northwest, and the Co-Artistic Director of the Seattle Modern Orchestra. Her career has led to acclaimed performances and rehearsals with the American Youth Symphony, Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic (Czech Republic), Brandenburger Symphoniker (Germany), Estonian National Youth Symphony (Estonia), New Symphony Orchestra (Bulgaria), Orquesta Filarmónica de la UNAM (Mexico), Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil Charlos Chávez (Mexico), and the Seattle Symphony.

Ms Tai has established a reputation for her creative programming and community partnerships. She has increased the esteem of her orchestras by elevating their artistic output, commissioning new works by renowned composers, and serving diverse communities. In 2017, in collaboration with Finlandia Foundation, Philharmonia Northwest celebrated Finland’s centennial by presenting Finland 100 at Seattle's Benaroya Hall, featuring three generations of Finnish composers. The concert was attended by Finland’s ambassador to the U.S. from Washington D.C. PNW has also presented an all-Taiwanese composers’ concert at Benaroya Hall in 2018, featuring musicians from all over the U.S., Canada, and Taiwan. Her orchestras have co-commissioned new works by PDQ Bach (Concerto for Simply Grand Piano and Orchestra), Mexican composer Osvaldo Mendoza (Three Mexican Portraits), Chinese-American composer Dorothy Chang (Gateways – Concerto for Erhu and Piano), and Sheila Silver (Being in Life – Concerto for French horn and Alpenhorn, 5 Tibetan singing bowls, and string orchestra).

Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Ms Tai began her violin studies at age four and piano at eight. She received her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, where she was awarded “Outstanding Graduate” in 2004. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Washington.

Dean Peterson DEAN PETERSON, Chorale Director

Dean Peterson has served as Director of the Missoula Symphony Chorale since 2006. In 2011, he retired from his position as Director of Choirs at Hellgate High School, where he taught for 25 years. He served as interim Director of Choirs at the University of Montana for the 2011–2012 academic year, and has served three years as conductor of the Missoula Mendelssohn Club. He currently works with the College Music Society as Coordinator of Community Outreach and Careers.

Dean received his Bachelor degrees in Music Education and Piano Performance from the University of Montana, and his Masters degree in Music Education with Kodaly emphasis from Holy Names College in Oakland, CA. In 1987 he co-founded the Missoula Youth Choir and co-directed the group in all eight of their performances in the Missoula International Choral Festival.

In 1992 he was selected to sing in the Robert Shaw Choral Workshop and Performance of the Beethoven Missa Solemnis in Carnegie Hall. In 1997 he received a $25,000 National Milken Educator of the Year Award, and in 2004 his Hellgate Chevaliers were selected to perform at the Northwest Convention of the American Choral Directors Association in Boise, Idaho.

Dean was recognized by the National Federation of High Schools as the 2010-2011 Outstanding Music Educator for Montana and the Northwest region. In March 2011, he was named Missoula Arts Educator of the Year by the Missoula Cultural Council and he received the 2011 Distinguished Service Award for the Montana Music Educators Association. In March 2014, Dean was honored by the University of Montana in the annual Odyssey of the Stars. He is a member and past president of the Montana Choral Directors Association, a member of the Montana Music Educators Association, a member of the Board of Directors for the Missoula International Choral Festival. He and his wife, Dorothy have been very active musically in Missoula for over 30 years and are the proud parents of two children: Ross and Elin.



  • 2020-21 Chorale schedule TBA

Missoula Symphony Staff

 JO MAY SALONEN - Executive Director

 PETER McKENZIE - Director of Operations

 KIRSTEN McGLYNN - Patron Services Coordinator

 BETH WOODY - Development Coordinator

 SYLVIA ALLEN OMAN - Education Coordinator

Board of Directors

  • Jim Valeo, President
  • Julie Tomasik*, Vice President
  • Ben Yonce*, Treasurer
  • Bill Johnston*, Secretary
  • Ed Wetherbee*, Past President
  • Andrew George
  • Deborah Stapley-Graham
  • Mark Haythornthwaite
  • Theresa Johnson
  • Celeste Peterson
  • Jeff Vandergrift

*Executive Committee

Appointed Directors

  • Adam Collins
    Orchestra Representative
  • Robin Kendall
    Chorale Representative

Ex-Officio Directors

  • Jo May Salonen*
    Executive Director
  • Julia Tai
    Music Director
  • Dean Peterson
    Chorale Director

Mission Statement

The mission of the Missoula Symphony Association shall be to assure cultural enrichment essential to the quality of life in the Missoula area by providing live symphonic and choral music of the highest quality. The Symphony shall provide musical growth and development for its performers and the community.


The Missoula Symphony Orchestra was organized in 1954 with Eugene Andrie as its founding conductor. The orchestra personnel was comprised of townspeople, University of Montana music faculty members, and U of M students. A Board of Directors was formed, and a constitution and by-laws were adopted. The first concert was performed on April 3, 1955.

In March of 1956, the Missoula Symphony Orchestra was accepted as a member of the American Symphony Orchestra League (now known as the League of American Orchestras). The Missoula Symphony Chorale was organized in 1962 with George Lewis as founding conductor. The Missoula Symphony Association was formed in 1976 and obtained its non-profit 501(c)(3) status that year.

Now celebrating its 65th season, the Association has grown to a current operating budget of over $600,000. It employs a full-time Music Director, a full-time Executive Director, a full-time Director of Operations, a part-time Patron Services Coordinator/Office Assistant, a part-time Development Coordinator, and a part-time Chorale Director. The masterworks season has grown to a five to six concert season, with each concert featuring two performances and the Holiday Pops featuring three. At least seven additional concerts are presented in addition to the masterworks season.

In addition to the regular concert season, the orchestra performs an enormous free outdoor Summer Concert each August in downtown Missoula, performs two Youth Concerts each year for 2,000 fourth grade students from communities within a 100-mile radius of Missoula and presents a wildly popular Family Concert. The Missoula Symphony Chorale performed in Europe at the invitation of choirs in Vienna, Austria in 1991, 1994, 1999 and 2002.

The Missoula Symphony Association continues to grow both artistically and financially as it is now well into its second half-century of progress.


No positions available at this time.


Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Chorale auditions are held annually in late summer/early autumn.

Auditions for the Orchestra’s sub list may be arranged on a case by case basis. Auditions for the Chorale, especially for Male voice, may also be arranged on a case by case basis.

Missoula Symphony Orchestra Auditions 2020-2021

Audition Requirements & Material:

Missoula Symphony Chorale Auditions 2020-2021

  • Auditions for all new chorale members are held annually in late summer/early autumn. This audition date has yet to be scheduled.

To schedule an audition, please use the form field below or call 406-721-3194.

First Name:
Last Name:
Email Address:
Instrument or Voice Type:

Community Impact

"Youth Concerts"

Youth Concerts

"Family Concert"

Family Concert

"Symphony in the Park"

Symphony in the Park

"Engagement & Education"

Outreach & Education