The Signature Symphony at TCC was formed in 1978 as a small professional chamber orchestra, the Tulsa Little Symphony, under the direction of founding Artistic Director and Conductor Dr. G. Barry Epperley.
The small chamber orchestra grew, changing its name to the Oklahoma Sinfonia, and performed in venues and at events throughout Tulsa and Oklahoma. Eventually, the Sinfonia became the house orchestra for Tulsa’s Brady Theater, now known as Tulsa Theater, where it not only performed with renowned guest artists but also presented a series of pops and light classics concerts each year.
A move to Tulsa Community College in 1996 paved the way for further orchestral development for the Sinfonia. As the professional orchestra-in-residence for TCC’s Performing Arts Center for Education, the orchestra soon began offering both a Pops and a Classics concert series as part of its regular season. Expanded concert seasons afforded the opportunity to add more players, more instruments, and more diversity and complexity in the orchestra’s repertoire.
In 2001, the orchestra officially changed its name to Signature Symphony at TCC and broadened its Music Education Outreach program. Higher Scale operated as a partnership between Signature Symphony, Tulsa Public Schools and Tulsa Community College to take music education and experiences into elementary schools where music programs otherwise would not exist. Twice each week, professional Signature Symphony musicians taught viola, violin and cello to third, fourth and fifth grade students in 12 Tulsa Public Schools. In addition, the Signature Quartet performed at elementary, middle and high schools, and the orchestra provided free rehearsal look-ins for students each season along with free ticket offers for classics performances.
The professional orchestra marked 40 years with Artistic Director and Conductor Andrés Franco at the podium. Under his direction, Signature Symphony at TCC launched Tulsa Sings!, showcasing the extraordinary talent who call or have called Tulsa home. Vocalists are selected during auditions each year to perform on the Signature Symphony stage backed by the professional orchestra. One contestant is named the grand prize winner and invited to return as a guest artist during a Signature Symphony concert the following season. Franco also expanded concert programming for Signature Symphony by featuring works by diverse composers, including women and people of color, as well as developing Overture, the orchestra’s annual gala.
Today, Scott Seaton serves as the third Artistic Director and Conductor of Signature Symphony at TCC, which includes 70 professional musicians who not only perform with the orchestra but also teach and coach music students at TCC, other colleges and universities, and various public and private schools and studios through the area.
Signature Symphony is also committed to mentoring opportunities for student musicians. For selected performances over the years, outstanding collegiate and high school student musicians have had the opportunity to perform side-by-side with Signature Symphony’s professional players.
For many of those students, these performing experiences have contributed to further educational opportunities at The Juilliard School, the Shepherd School of Music (Rice), the Oklahoma Philharmonic, the former Tulsa Philharmonic, the U.S. Marine Band in Washington, D.C., and the New World Symphony.