“Every great movement is the lengthening shadow of some great man.”
One hundred twenty-one years ago this day, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia’s beloved Founder, Ossian Everett Mills gathered with thirteen young men at the New England Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts and held the first meeting of the Sinfonia Club. They gathered for sociability’s sake, hoping to build the best men among musicians, thus advancing music in America. These were men who had likely taken part in Father Mills’ Flower Missions or were a part of his prayer groups. They looked to him for guidance and wise counsel, and he took them under his wing. It was in this environment and under the careful tutelage of our Founder that these young men learned to love each another, “in honor preferring one another.”
In 1923, Ralph Howard Pendleton, in a letter to Supreme President Peter Dykema, wrote, “Father Mills, affectionately so-called, was the father and founder of Sinfonia and all that it stands for. His name should ever be remembered and Founder’s Day should be revered and observed once a year in all Chapters. Ossian E. Mills, a Christian man, a gentleman, an expert in his particular line of work, a lover of the young student away from home, amid treacherous surroundings perhaps, worked hard to found an organization which would live forever to keep up those ideals which he promulgated.”
Mills believed in the power of our influence on one another and on our fellow man, writing,
The type of man you and I are, the personal influence that radiates from our lives, will be the power to make or unmake the men with whom we are now associated or who shall come after us… let us, you and I, for the sake of our brother man, individually strive by example and influence to lift the standard of thought and conduct from the low level of selfishness and self-indulgence up to the lofty realms of aspirational thought and self-denial.
He desired that Sinfonians step away from the familiar and contemplate serious ideals,
I assure you that we men, all of us, need, more perhaps than we think, to withdraw from the active, noisy, materialistic rush of the world, not to mention the sensuous, intoxicating, social pleasures of life that minister only to the flesh, and in peaceful quiet meditate upon and consider together some of the deep things of life, listen to the voice of the Eternal and be taught by the infinite spirit of truth.
And, he regularly reminded Brothers to exhibit the value of Harmony, often quoting,
‘Harmony is ever to be the noble aim of our beloved society – harmony not only in music, but in the life within the fraternity, and in the broader and fuller life beyond its portals: it is the harmony whose music is felt in the hearty handclasp, heard in the cheerful greeting, seen in living notes in the generous act.’
This day, let us celebrate the 121st anniversary of the founding of Sinfonia by honoring our Founder and celebrating his character in the example we are to one another, both within the Fraternity and without. Take the opportunity to participate in Phi Mu Alpha’s national philanthropy, the Mills Music Mission, and share the Power of Music with those who may benefit most. Consider what you, as a steward of the manifest vision of Ossian Everett Mills, can do to advance our Order, and seek out ways to Raise the Song and Sing as One! Let us come together as never before and dedicate ourselves to make our 122nd year the most successful year in the existence of our Order!
Happy Founder’s Day, Brothers! So let it be for Sinfonia!
In Phi, Mu, Alpha,
Mark R. Lichtenberg, National President
Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America