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Discover Saturday,Venice December 2012-2013 1, 2012

SYMPHONY FROM PAGE 46 conductor. The Florida State University School of Music graduate found himself before a stage of volunteer musicians, one as old as 85 and one as young as 8. Although the admission was free, the patrons were proud and enthusiastic. The first concertmaster was

Joyce Hoefer, who continued to play violin in the orchestra until last year. She remembers the first rehearsal in the fall of 1973. “We met in the orchestra room at the high school,” she said. “Hartley invited three musicians from the West Coast Symphony in Sarasota who lived in Venice. Some of his students also participated. My daughter, Karen, was one of them.”

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Both mother and daughter played the first performance. Karen Hoefer Tuttle is now the first violist for the orchestra. Her mother recalls clearly the orchestra’s first concert was Jan. 19, 1974 — it was Karen’s 11th birthday. “One thing that helped us when we were just starting out is that the high school had a library of music we could use,” Hoefer said. Around 1983, Haines left the school and the symphony orchestra. Ernesto Epistola, a cellist, was hired by the school board to be the orchestra director and strings teacher at the Venice high and middle schools. Symphony board member Barbara Bregman encouraged Epistola to audition for the conductor position at the symphony. “Barbara was a powerhouse,” he said. Epistola was selected to lead the mostly volunteer

orchestra to the next level. He continued as the maestro until 1988. His classroom was located in the “new” middle school on Center Road. That became the symphony orchestra’s rehearsal hall. “The chairs and music stands were already set up,” Epistola said. “Performances were at the high school. We were at the mercy of the custodians. They had to set up the chairs and set the stage before every performance. “The musicians had a committee to select the music we played. Some of the music was challenging — not high school music. It was a community affair. We had some retired musicians who had played in big orchestras in other parts of the country and some students.” Epistola said the orchestra had an outreach program for

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