The Midland-Odessa Symphony & Chorale (MOSC) was founded in 1962 when the then-modest individual orchestras of the two cities (Midland and Odessa, Texas) were combined under the leadership of Dr. Lara Hoggard. The MOSC currently includes a symphony of over 80 resident professional musicians and is ranked by the American Symphony Orchestra League as a metropolitan Orchestra. Considering that metropolitan orchestras are typically supported by an average population of 500,000 or more, Midland-Odessa’s combined population of 200,000 is a remarkable statistical tribute to this young orchestra. The MOSC now holds the distinction of being the largest professional performing arts organization in West Texas.
A special combination of organizational skills and optimism helped to ensure the MOSC’s success. These talents were readily personified in the two founders of the Midland Symphony Guild. Mrs. J. Harvey Herd (Harriet) and Mrs. J. Wilmont Hunt (Billie). As board members of the newly formed Midland-Odessa Symphony & Chorale Association in 1962, the two women were the first to foresee the need for a strong women’s auxiliary to provide support services and raise funds for the Symphony. Mrs. Herd and Mrs. Hunt, along with fellow Guild charter member Mrs. W.H. Gilmore, Jr. (Betty), formulated the Midland Symphony Guild’s bylaws with a limited membership of 200.
The Guild’s first meeting was held in Mrs. Herd’s home in the Spring of 1963. At this meeting, Mrs. Hunt was elected Chairman of the Board and Mrs. Sam Cobb (Betty) was selected the Guild’s first President. Mrs. Hunt was responsible for establishing the Midland Symphony Debs (now the Belles) Program, while Mrs. Herd was the first chairman of the prestigious National Young Artists Competition (NYAC). Another Guild charter member, Mrs. Raiford H. Burton (Ruth) was the primary force in the funding and construction of the Symphony’s rehearsal hall.
Early Guild fund-raisers ranged from country bazaars to fashion shows and from formal balls to a bullfight held one year at the Ector County Coliseum. Past Guild events included an numerous outstanding National Young Artists Competition and two annual New York City tours. Guild efforts have grown to include the Symphony Belle Program, a Member-in-Training program, the annual Gala which is a two-day event that raises funds to support our Symphony & Chorale financially while presenting our Senior Belles and introducing our Freshman Belles, and the annual Tabletop Design Showcase luncheon and style show.