"For the Love of Music ...Since 1866"

Becoming a member

​Robert Hart Baker


The Belleville Philharmonic Society was founded on November 19, 1866.  The Philharmonic presented its first concert on January 26, 1867.  The Society's first conductor was Theodore Decker, who began the annual schedule of concerts that is unbroken to this day--making the Belleville Philharmonic Orchestra the nation's second oldest symphony orchestra in continuous operation. The orchestra was comprised of talented volunteer musicians who made distinguished contributions to the community in a wide range of vocations, and the same can be said of the Society's various ensembles today.

Today the orchestra is led by Maestro Robert Hart Baker and is comprised of about 60 talented professional and amateur musicians.  We are teachers, students, doctors, professionals, homemakers, retirees, and every other lifestyle imaginable. The majority of our players are those who play for the love of music and personal enrichment. Musicians of all ages are welcome in the orchestra. Students, high school and younger, are welcome to join the orchestra but are required to play with the Youth Orchestra as well.  

We welcome musicians to join us throughout the season. Membership is based on an audition and dependent on openings.  String players (violin, viola, cello, bass) are always welcome. Continuing positions in our woodwind and brass sections are very limited since most players remain with us year after year. Please note that the Philharmonic Orchestra is a volunteer ensemble and that paid positions are not available.  

Rehearsals are Thursday evenings at 7:30 at Philharmonic Hall, 116 N. Jackson St. in Belleville. The rehearsal season usually runs from September through early May.   

Since we strive for a very high level of performance and perform for a paying audience, regular rehearsal attendance is imperative.  We do, however, understand that family and work obligations may necessitate occasional absences.

We sometimes need substitute players for individual concerts.  Our personnel manager maintains a list of players who wish to join us either on a part-time or regular basis. New members are asked to play a brief informal audition to verify experience and to help determine section placement.