With the goal of sharing the enjoyment of good music, a small but dedicated group of musicians formed the Rochester Symphony Orchestra in 1961.
While in its early years, the Rochester Symphony Orchestra grew and matured under several conductors. Among them were Frederick Johnson, Richard Goldsworthy, Alonzo Seabold, and Edward Steinhart.
However, in 1978, the organization took a major step forward by naming James Fenwick Hohmeyer as their music director and conductor. Because of his energetic leadership, vast musical knowledge, and creative programming, the orchestra advanced. While under his direction, Hohmeyer made it so that the Rochester Symphony Orchestra was able to pick from leading candidates to fill his shoes. Consequently, the orchestra selected Maestro Glenn Klassen. The Rochester Symphony Orchestra also rose to a distinguished status in 2014 when Zeljko Milicevic became the music director and conductor.
Each season the Rochester Symphony Orchestra offers subscription concerts featuring noted guest artists and soloists. In addition, the orchestra conducts educational outreach programs in the greater Rochester area, including its acclaimed annual Young Artist Competition.
Zeljko (Bill) Milicevic.
Serving the Rochester community as Music Director and Conductor of the Rochester Symphony Orchestra since 2014, Zeljko Milicevic graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education and Violin Performance. He completed his Master of Music in Education from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In 2007, he earned a Certificate in Orchestral Studies from Wayne State University with an emphasis on Conducting and Violin Performance. A sought-after conductor, violinist, educator, clinician, and adjudicator, he began his service in public education in 1990. He has led orchestra programs in Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools, Utica and Oxford Community Schools, and Farmington Public Schools. Additionally, Milicevic has been Adjunct Professor of String Pedagogy at Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Michigan since 2005. He has also performed with many of Michigan’s regional orchestras including the Michigan Opera Theatre, Saginaw-Bay Orchestra, and the Midland Symphony Orchestra. Presently, he servers as Music Director and Conductor for the Detroit Medical Orchestra, the Oakland University Chamber Orchestra, Concertmaster for the Flint Symphony Orchestra as well as Senior Director with the Oakland Youth Orchestras where he has conducted the Symphony Orchestra since 1994.
Gerald Tschura, President, DISTINGUISHED EMERITUS PROFESSOR OF LAW, Western Michigan University, Cooley Law School. Gerald is a former Divisional Vice President and Legal Counsel for Kmart Corporation. He received his J.D. from Louisiana State University in 1985.
Angeline (Kozlowicz) Thorner, Vice President, grew up in Royal Oak, Michigan, attended Wayne State University, and taught in public schools for over thirty years. She joined the Rochester Symphony Guild in 2015, serving as Recording Secretary 2020-2022. Angeline has served on the RSO Board of Directors since 2021 and co-chairs the RSO marketing and publicity committee.
Eileen Tschura, Recording Secretary, has been a Michigan resident for twenty-five years. She holds a Bachelor of Administration degree from The University of Arkansas and an MBA from Central Michigan University. Her background includes promotions and marketing management in the architectural/engineering and design sector. She also serves as coordinator for the Concert Series Program advertising and co-chairs the marketing and publicity committee for the RSO.
Phyllis Relyea, Corresponding Secretary, holds degrees from Ohio and Indiana Universities. She is retired from a 34.5 music teaching career in the Waterford Schools and is a 15-year member of the RSO Board. She has been a Rochester, Michigan resident for over 30 years.
Julie Kinney serves as Treasurer for the RSO. She is a former bass player who played in many orchestras, including a season with The Rochester Symphony Orchestra. She currently lives in Oxford, Michigan and works full time as an operations manager and auditor for a Michigan-based financial institution.
Mike Kennedy, Ticket Manager is retired from Utica Schools as a truant officer. Mike handles RSO business operations, and ticket sales and distribution. He is also responsible for networking with the Toys for Tots organization and securing their participation for the December concert. He lives in Shelby Township, Michigan.
Kathleen Leighton, a longtime resident of Rochester, has been a member of the Board of Directors for over 20 years. She serves as Assistant Ticket Manager. Her background includes managerial positions at financial institutions. Currently she serves as the Advanced Planning Counselor for Modetz Funeral Homes. She is very active in her community in addition to the RSO’s Board of Directors. She has been involved with the American Cancer Society, the Rochester Optimists, The Gary Cooper Davis Foundation and Henry Ford Hospital’s Sandcastles Council.
Rita May holds a Bachelor of Music degree. She has worked as a private piano teacher, accompanist, and as an adjudicator of piano competitions. She is also a certified German translator and taught German at the high school level (now retired). For 18 summers, she worked for Dr. Gerald Fischbach’s International Music Workshops. She is a long-time resident of Rochester, Michigan.
Mary Mazure is a longtime resident of Rochester, Michigan. She was elected to this position after serving on the Board as representative and president of the Rochester Symphony Guild. She has been involved through both organizations with fundraising and promotional activities as well as hospitality during concerts. During the seventies she served on the Board and as stage manager of the Utica Michigan Symphony Orchestra. She is retired after 40 years as a teacher in the Utica Community Schools.
Gary M. Morin graduated from Oakland University with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees and did post graduate work in Economics at Purdue University. Gary has worked as a senior business analyst, college instructor and executive manager for over 35 years, most recently as Chief Information Officer of Energy Conversion Devices in Rochester Hills Michigan.
After Karen graduated from the University of Wisconsin, she worked as a healthcare professional for many years. Being a person who loves and values people, she enjoys sending cards to people in need of a caring thought, so the Sunshine Committee is a perfect fit for her. Karen has been past president of Meadowbrook Woman’s Club and The Rochester Symphony Guild and is currently a twenty-year member of the Board of Directors for both The Rochester Symphony Guild and the Rochester Symphony Orchestra.
Nancy has been a member of the Rochester Symphony Board since 2008. She is a retired photographer and a long-time resident of Rochester Hills, Michigan. Nancy also served as advertising coordinator for the Rochester Symphony Guild from 1994 through 2020.
Sam retired from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra after 38 years. He is a native Detroiter and attended Pershing High School and Wayne State University. Prior to coming to the Detroit Orchestra, Sam spent two years with the Florida Symphony, seven seasons with the New Orleans Orchestra and seven summers with the Santa Fe Opera. He was a percussion instructor at Wayne State for ten years. Sam now resides in Oakland Township.