In 1979, Nico Snel took up the baton as the SPO’s 3rd Music Director.
Having survived the Nazi invasion of his native Holland to emigrate to the United States at age 15, Snel was already an accomplished student of the piano and violin when he settled with his family in Oakland, California. Within a year, he joined the Oakland Symphony as the youngest member ever of the First Violins.
For about half of his 16-year tenure as SPO music director, Snel simultaneously conducted the Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra. He had settled in Port Angeles in 1985 with his wife Sharon, who continues to play with Port Angeles and is the former Principal Flute for SPO. Nico Snel is sorely missed today in many communities. Those who worked with him remember him as a consummate musician, a patient teacher, a devoted father, and a great friend. The orchestra continues to honor his memory through the Nico Snel Memorial Library, the SPO’s lending library of music that the public is invited to support.
Marsha Mabrey took the helm of the Philharmonic from 1996 to 2002. As an instructor for many years with the Bellevue public school system, she brought with her a great love of music education and a desire to serve the community.
Mabrey was instrumental in enhancing the SPO’s public outreach efforts, including supporting the Side-by-Side Concert Program for high school musicians, which was established by the Allied Arts of Renton. She especially sought programming that featured the works of living composers as well as lesser-known American composers.
Current Music Director Adam Stern joined the SPO for the 60th anniversary season in 2003. With a heart driven by music and a life steeped in its study, Stern has brought a new energy to the Seattle Philharmonic story. He has been active in the local music community since 1992. Stern also serves as the Music Director for the Sammamish Symphony Orchestra and Federal Way Symphony.
More than six decades after it was founded, the SPO continues to thrive as an assembly of professional and non-professional performers bringing affordable performances of classical music to the community. The orchestra is still composed of accountants, physicians, teachers, homemakers… people from all walks of life who share a love of music.