In 1962, a group of Lawton-area residents organized the Lawton
Philharmonic Orchestra's first concert.
"It was a group of community music lovers," said Cathy
Caccioppoli, the orchestra's executive director. "The original group
was about 50 people excited about having a philharmonic orchestra."
The group of volunteers raised money to rent a performance hall
and put on the first performance.
"They were all volunteers," Caccioppoli said of the concert
organizers. "The music director and the musicians were all
Their efforts proved successful.
"And here we are 50 years later," Caccioppoli said.
The Lawton Philharmonic Orchestra recently completed its 50th
season. The nonprofit group sold about 500 season tickets for the
season and sold 1,300 tickets for the final performance in April.
The season's final performance was Beethoven's Symphony No. 9.
The orchestra operates on an annual budget of $277,000, with
about 30 percent coming from ticket sales. With five performances
scheduled for the upcoming 51st season, the budget is stretched
"I am the only person on staff," Caccioppoli said. "I do not work
full time. I am a paid part-time employee."
Office space is donated by BancFirst.
"We keep our operating expenses to a minimum," she said. "We put
all our money into the concerts."
Musicians for concerts are paid on a single engagement contract.
"We have three rehearsals and a performance for each concert,"
A concert usually requires 60 to 70 musicians depending on the
musical requirements. Most of the musicians come from the Lawton
area, Oklahoma City and other areas of Oklahoma and the Dallas-Fort
"You cannot fill out the orchestra from the Lawton area, so we
reach out to other areas," she said.
Jon Kalbfleisch is the music director and conductor for the
Lawton Philharmonic Orchestra. In August, he agreed to continue as
music director and conductor at least through June 2014.
He has a bachelor's degree in piano performance from Cameron
University and a master's degree in music in orchestral conducting
from Southern Methodist University.
Kalbfleisch was born in Lawton but now lives in Washington, D.C.
He is resident music director for the Signature Theatre in
Arlington, Va., and has won five Helen Hayes Awards for Outstanding
Musical Direction with 21 nominations. …