Mission & History

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 67th season, the Association has grown to a current operating budget of over $700,000. It employs a full-time Music Director, a full-time Executive Director, a full-time Director of Operations, a full-time Patron Services Coordinator/Office Assistant, a part-time Development Coordinator, a part time Education Coordinator, a part-time Chorale Director, 2 Librarians and a Social Media Coordinator. Our 2022-23 season features eight concerts, including our free summer concert, youth/family concerts and a Broadway concert in May. 


The Missoula Symphony Chorale joined the Missoula Symphony Orchestra in 1962 and has been an integral part of the MSA ever since.

Since its inception in 1962, the Choir has been directed by just 4 conductors—George Lewis (founding conductor, 1962-1977), Joseph Mussulman (1977-1987), Donald Carey (1987-2006) and Dean Peterson (current conductor, 2006-present). Under Donald Carey, the chorale was able to do three tours of Europe for a series of concerts and cultural exchanges, allowing local singers the opportunity to perform in some of the finest concert venues in Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic. Through the hard work of Joe Mussulman and Donald Carey, the chorale and orchestra were honored to also work with the renowned conductor, Robert Shaw, in four different concerts between 1972 – 1979.

The current conductor, Dean Peterson, was a member of the chorale’s Tenor section in the 1979 Shaw performance of Bach’s St John Passion. In 1987, at the close of Joe Mussulman’s tenure with the choir, the group was delighted to sing with other esteemed American choirs in a performance of the Brahm’s Requiem in Carnegie Hall. Under Peterson, the chorale has continued to offer major Masterwork Concerts, including Mozart’s great C Minor Mass, Requiems by Mozart, and many more, as well as “Stand Alone” concerts that feature major works by contemporary choral composers. During his tenure, Peterson has also established the annual Holiday Pops concert as the highly anticipated opening of the holiday season in Missoula.

It is the goal of the Chorale to continue to offer cultural enrichment to Western Montana through the performance of masterworks and contemporary music of the choral-orchestral repertoire. The organization will always be committed to achieving the highest level of excellence in musical performance.

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