About the West Michigan Symphony

Every Orchestra Tells Its Own Story…
The West Michigan Symphony (WMS) is a widely recognized professional orchestra and proud to be a leader in West Michigan’s cultural community for the past 75 years.

Mr. A. M. Courtright, a Muskegon Heights teacher, and Mr. Palmer Quackenbush are credited with early pioneering efforts to provide Muskegon with a symphony orchestra. In November 1939 a musical group of 50 members presented its first concert with Mr. Quackenbush conducting and Mr. Courtright assisting. The group incorporated the following year and elected its first board of directors.

Performances were initially held in area schools and later moved to the historic Frauenthal Theater. Conductors have included Tauno Hannikainen, Hugo Kolberg, Wayne Dunlap, Lyman Starr, John Wheeler, Philip Greenberg, Murray Gross, and current Music Director Scott Speck.

Today WMS is comprised of professional musicians of the highest caliber playing extremely challenging repertoire and presenting some of the world’s most talented guest artists. WMS performs eight subscription concerts (five classical and three pops) per season.

Built in 1929, the 1724 seat Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts underwent a $7.5 million renovation that restored it to its original Spanish Renaissance splendor while also creating a spacious modern lobby linking it with the adjacent 180 seat Beardsley Theatre. The Frauenthal Theater is praised by artists and audiences alike for its extraordinary beauty, excellent acoustics and broad sight lines. With the prime location of its performance hall in the Frauenthal at the intersection of downtown Muskegon’s Western Avenue and Third Street, WMS is proud to be a key player in this period of Renaissance that will bring a renewed vitality and life to the center of the city.

May 15, 2013, WMS moved its offices into new headquarters on the second floor of the Russell Block Building at 360 W. Western Avenue, ushering in a new era of music making. The Block, an 1800 square-feet space adjacent to the offices, is an intimate concert and education space and a rental facility for weddings and special events. With flexible seating for up to 150, it features a lounge and dressing room area, small balcony, windows facing Muskegon Lake, and an outdoor deck made of recycled materials with green spaces. The Block allows WMS to increase its presence in downtown Muskegon by expanding its ticket operations on the first floor and presenting 15 concerts @The Block, welcoming artists in genres from classical, to cabaret, to alternative..

Vision Statement
We are a catalyst for a music-infused West Michigan: leading, facilitating, connecting and collaborating with the community to stimulate cultural vibrancy, inclusivity and pride of place.

Mission Statement
West Michigan Symphony connects and enriches our diverse community through the transformative power of music.

We fulfill this primarily through three core offerings:
• Professional, live symphonic performances in a welcoming environment

The Block, a gathering space that sparks curiosity, inspiration and fellowship through the shared experience of uncommon live music

Music Education that enriches the lives of children and adults through exploration, participation and performance

WMS Statement of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

For Funders
Our 990 and Cultural Data Project Report (CDP Report) for the most recently completed fiscal year is available for download below.

Combined WMS and The Block 2018-2019 Independent Auditors’ Report
WMS 2018-2019 Form 990 (Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2019)

GuideStar is an information service specializing in reporting on U.S. nonprofit companies. Click the link to read the GuideStar report for West Michigan Symphony.