Casual meeting leads seasoned leader to La Porte symphony
After more than two musical decades guiding the growth and future of the Louisville Orchestra, Tim King was ready for retirement when he moved to northern Indiana.
“It was around 2015 when the director for the La Porte County Symphony (Orchestra) had left, and I just happened to meet Leigh Morris, chairman of the symphony’s board of directors, and his wife, Marcia, at one of the concerts,” said King, who lives in Rolling Prairie.
“I was so impressed with this orchestra and very taken by the entire concert experience,” King said. “Leigh asked to meet with me, and later I was invited to fill in for about nine months in the vacant position, and here I still am, as we narrow down our music director search.”
During the leadership transition, King, 61, has worked closely with Chuck Steck, the principle trumpet player of the 55- to 60-member La Porte County symphony. Steck is serving as the associate conductor for the orchestra.
Included with his administrative duties as executive director, King serves as the liaison for the growing number of almost 300 symphony season subscribers, in addition to the between 600 and 1,000 single-ticket patrons who attend the concerts throughout the year at the La Porte Civic Center.
The La Porte County Symphony Orchestra, now in its 47th season, annually presents two pops concerts and one classical performance. The symphony’s season runs from Labor Day to Memorial Day. April 25 is its final concert for the 2019-2020 season.
“We are working with a budget of around $250,000 to $300,000, which is not very big considering what we are able to provide each year while supporting an orchestra this size,” King said.
He said the symphony’s programming priority is to listen to its audience.
“We know that not every concert can be all the works of (Gustav) Mahler or other classic greats,” King said. “We make sure we offer something for everyone.”
During the past two seasons, King, Morris and the governing board also have been listening to their patrons and audience members during the selection process for a new music director.
“We started with about 11 qualified candidates two years ago, and during this time, we have shared the bios and provided credentials of these professionals with inserts in our concert programs asking our audience to provide their feedback,” King said. “Now, we have narrowed the number of candidates down to six, so we are getting closer.”
Morris said the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra is “both blessed and so fortunate” to have King leading the musical organization through “an important transition and new chapter of growth.”
“First and foremost, Tim King is a great musician,” Morris said. “But he is also so much more for what is needed to achieve success. He is also a wonderful educator and knowledgeable businessman.”
Morris said that, when King was planning his retirement, his “change-of-landscapes” move north was intended to be Michigan.
“It just so happened that when Tim said he wanted to ‘escape the heat of Louisville,’ he happened to stop through La Porte and look around, which led him to experience one of our symphony concerts,” Morris said. “And lucky for our community, he never made it any farther north to Michigan.”
King said the opportunities provided by the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra are intended for every age. Emphasis is on Children’s Educational Concerts, which annually serve more than 6,000 students from La Porte County schools, as well as senior living facilities and agencies that provide support for those with special needs.
“Music is a wonderful way to connect a community,” King said.