In 1932 members of the Albuquerque Rotary Club adopted a resolution to organize a symphony orchestra. The Rotarians asked Grace Thompson Edmister to form the Symphony Civic Orchestra, making Edmister the first woman in the United States to conduct such an ensemble. Immediately after the announcement was made, community members stepped forward to launch the inaugural event. The University of New Mexico offered instruments, sheet music, and a concert location. Mayor Clyde Tingley went door-to-door inviting community members to the concert. The response of the city was beyond expectations with 2,000 people in attendance. At the end of the concert, Rotary Club International President Clinton P. Anderson officially presented the orchestra to the City of Albuquerque, which was accepted on behalf of the citizens of Albuquerque by Mayor Tingley.
The orchestra received its first payment for performing at the KiMo Theatre for the dedication of KOB, the first 50,000 watt radio station in Albuquerque. It was decided that the performance payment would be used to purchase the first sheet music owned by the orchestra.
After the 1932 inaugural performance, Albuquerque Mayor Clyde Tingley wrote the following letter to Conductor Grace Thompson Edminster.
Dear Mrs. Thompson:
On behalf of the City of Albuquerque, I extend congratulations to you and the members of the Symphony Civic Orchestra for the splendid concert given on last Wednesday evening. To be able to render, after only six weeks of rehearsal, such a program shows unusual ability and talent, not only on the part of the director but by the personnel of the orchestras as well.
A movement, such as this, started at a time when the prospect of an auditorium looms very bright, is worthy of the support of everyone interested in the cultural growth of Albuquerque. It should be far reaching in its results. In the years to come we hope to see Albuquerque the center of musical activities in the Southwest.
Albuquerque is very proud to be listed with the cities having a symphony orchestra. I sincerely wish you continued success, and I will gladly lend my assistance to you at any time.
Very Truly Yours,
C. Tingley, Mayor
Turning forward to May of 2011, Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry stated, “I cannot imagine Albuquerque, a city that strongly supports the arts, without a top-rate orchestra. For nearly eight decades, Albuquerque’s residents and visitors have enjoyed live classical music and I am pleased to learn of the formation of the New Mexico Philharmonic that will keep that tradition going. We support them in creating a new and exciting option for music lovers and look forward to their great success.”