Suncoast Symphony Orchestra

Our History

SSO History In The Beginning
The history of the Suncoast Symphony Orchestra really begins with the Clearwater Symphony Orchestra. The Clearwater Symphony was founded in 1984 by a small group of musicians and educators wishing to provide an outlet for the performance of symphonic music in the community. The first program was presented in 1985 at the Royalty Theatre in downtown Clearwater. Since then the orchestra has performed in many locations in the Dunedin-Largo-Clearwater-Palm Harbor-Oldsmar area, and also at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg.

Name Change
Near the end of the 1993-94 season, the orchestra changed its name to the Suncoast Symphony Orchestra to better reach the Greater Tampa Bay Community. The orchestra presents a series of three programs during the season with each series performed at a number of locations in the area. The orchestra is a member of the Pinellas Arts Foundation. All members of the orchestra donate their time.

Supported By Donations
The orchestra is supported by private and public donations. We are a 501c3 non-profit organization and all donations are tax deductible. To make a donation, please visit our Donations page. We hope that you will attend and enjoy our concerts.

Past Conductors
The Suncoast Symphony Orchestra would like to acknowledge and thank the following individuals for their outstanding leadership and service to our orchestra as conductor:

1984-1987Raymond J. Hawkinson
1987Andrew Galos
1987-1988Vaughn Bean
1989-1994Raymond J. Hawkinson,
 assisted by Juliana Moss
 and Adalberto Juardo
1994-1995Cameron Horne
1996Dr. Robert Newell
1996-1998Eugene Flemm
1998-1999Charles Harvey
1999-2001J.P. Carney
2002-PresentDr. Theodore DeCorso

In Memoriam - Raymond J. Hawkinson (1935-2008)
Ray Hawkinson was a co-founder and the first to conduct our orchestra which was then known as The Clearwater Symphony Orchestra.

During Ray's tenure as conductor from 1984 to 1987 and from 1989 to 1994 Ray brought to the community outstanding music and musical performances. His knack in bringing out the best in every musician who performed under his baton helped to establish Ray as a leader in the promotion of local music.

Ray was born in Saskatchewan, Canada. He received his B.S. from St. Norbert College and his M.S. from the University of Wisconsin. Prior to moving to the Clearwater, Florida area Ray spent 18 years as Director of Music at Sun Prairie and Sturgeon Bay high schools in Wisconsin.

After relocating to our community Ray continued as a music educator at Clearwater Central Catholic High School, St. Patrick Catholic School and Our Lady of Lourdes School. Ray was also on the music faculty at the University of South Florida and the conductor of the Dunedin Concert Band.

Ray will be sorely missed in our music community.