Thomas Fairlie

Thomas Fairlie rehearses with the Temple Symphony Orchestra. Fairlie is stepping down after serving for 28 years as the artistic director for the TSO.

Thomas Fairlie recently announced his retirement after 28 years as the artistic director of the Temple Symphony Orchestra.

The TSO board of directors, while accepting his resignation, has voted to give Fairlie the title of Conductor Emeritus. The organization said it looks forward to working with him in the future.

Fairlie moved to Temple in July of 1990 after being hired as band director at Temple College. He subsequently built a highly visible and successful instrumental music program at TC, including the Symphonic Band, the Jazz Ensemble and the Temple Jazz Orchestra. Fairlie retired from Temple College in May of 2016.

The Temple Symphony was formed after an initial holiday concert was presented in December of 1994 at Temple High School. This concert was a result of a collaboration between Fairlie and Don Nelson.

Nelson, who was the marketing director at what was, in 1994, Scott & White hospital, offered to raise the money for a Christmas concert. He asked Fairlie to recruit the musicians. Both men held up their end of the bargain and the concert was a success.

“The audience was electrifying,” said Fairlie. “The response was so positive that Scott & White funded another concert the following year. Shortly after that, the initial board of directors of the symphony was formed.”

Buford Craig, president of the current TSO Board of Directors, said “it is hard to imagine the symphony without Tom at the helm. He will be missed. While this is going to be a big change, the board is working, with Tom’s assistance, to find a new conductor. We have confidence in the symphony’s future. I consider it an honor to have gotten to know Tom, to have been able to work with him, and to watch him lead the symphony.”

Fairlie will finish out the 2021-2022 season and said he hopes to have the opportunity to conduct the orchestra from time to time.

“I am open to whatever the future brings,” Fairlie said. “This is a bittersweet time for me. I have given this decision much consideration over the past couple of years and I believe it is the right decision for me and for the orchestra going forward. I will miss the people I have gotten to know during my time as the symphony’s director, but I feel confident that many of those relationships will continue.”

The community is invited to hear Fairlie and the Temple Symphony Orchestra perform on Saturday, December 4 at 7:30 p.m. for the holiday concert. The concert will be held in the fine arts auditorium at Temple High School.