MYSO’s second full symphony orchestra, numbering 155 members, participates in a curriculum that introduces the major styles and national flavors of symphonic literature. This ensemble plays a wide variety of challenging original works. Most students in this group are in grades 9-12.
Philharmonia Music Directors
Mr. Melby taught in the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District for 32 years and retired as orchestra director at Nathan Hale High School in 1995. He has been a member of MYSO's artistic staff since 1964. He served on the staff of the Wisconsin High School Honors Orchestra for two years and directed at the first National Youth Orchestra Festival in Washington, DC, in 1977. Mr. Melby received his BMusEd degree from the University of Wisconsin (Madison) and has graduate credits in String Development and Music Education from that institution, as well. His education also includes summer institute study with Shinichi Suzuki, George Bornhoff and Paul Roland. In 1993, he received the Outstanding Teacher Award from the American String Teachers Association/Wisconsin String Teachers Association. In 2002 Mr. Melby was honored by the Civic Music Association with its Lifetime Achievement Award.
Carter Simmons is MYSO’s Artistic Director and Music Director of the Chamber Orchestra and Philharmonia. An ardent champion of young musicians, Mr. Simmons has been recognized by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra for “distinguished contributions to music education in Wisconsin” while also receiving an award for Excellence in Youth Music Instruction from the Civic Music Association.
Mr. Simmons frequently serves as a clinician, consultant and guest conductor. He has conducted orchestras including the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Racine Symphony Orchestra, Kenosha Symphony Orchestra, Festival City Symphony, Concord Chamber Orchestra, the Gathering on the Green Festival Orchestra, Cream City Concert Band, and in Europe and China. His training included seminars conducting the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and Eastman Wind Ensemble and as a finalist of the National Symphony Orchestra’s National Conducting Institute. He worked with conductors John Locke, Thomas Dvorak and Larry Rachleff and was influenced in classes with Elizabeth A. H. Green, John Downey, Leon Fleischer, Gustav Meier, Frederick Fennell, H. Robert Reynolds, Christopher Wilkins, and Donald Thulean among others.
Mr. Simmons continues to create new programs and collaborations at MYSO while fostering relationships with institutions such as the Sphinx Organization, First Stage Children’s Theater, Milwaukee Children’s Choir, Present Music, PianoArts, RUACH, the Milwaukee Ballet, Danceworks, and the MSO. Mr. Simmons was President of the Board of Directors of the Civic Music Association and has spoken on arts related subjects both locally and across the country with the League of American Orchestras. He is married to violinist, Pamela Simmons, and is blessed to be the father of two wonderful kids.