As early as December 1961, the Skagit Valley College Community Orchestra was under the direction of Charles Easton, music director at Mount Vernon High School. Mr. Easton conducted the orchestra until May 1976. The orchestra was mostly strings and rehearsed one night a week. For special occasions, Mr. Easton brought in wind players for a full orchestra.
From fall 1976 to May 1979, the orchestra was under the direction of Mr. Norm Graham, a music instructor in the Mount Vernon School District. The orchestra continued to rehearse once a week as a chamber orchestra.
During the summer of 1979, David Phipps and Vicki Archer solicited musicians for a tri-county orchestra to perform a summer concert that included woodwinds, brass, percussion, and was named the Skagit-Island-San Juan Orchestra.
In the fall 1979 until summer 1989, Ms. Archer conducted, and managed as executive director, the organization under the auspices of the Musical Arts Board, an “arm of the Skagit Valley College Foundation. The symphony hosted such guests as Gary Karr, Glen Yarborough, Cliff Lenz, the Morca Dance Theatre, and Victor Borge in 1985 for the opening of the college pavilion. In the fall of 1989, the Musical Arts Board disbanded when Ms. Archer resigned, and Dr. Paul Stoner, emeritus music professor from Western Washington University was hired as the new conductor.
In 1992, Dr. Stoner retired as conductor, the symphony separated from the SVC Foundation to form an independent nonprofit organization managed by a volunteer board of directors, and hired Ms. Kathleen Ash Barraclough who served as the music director/conductor. Several years later, the symphony name was modified to the Skagit Symphony.
In 2004, Roupen Shakarian ascended the podium and led the orchestra into our new home at McIntyre Hall.