Phi Mu Alpha Founder’s Day 2020

On October 6, 1898, our beloved Sinfonia was founded at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Since then, we have grown to over 125,000 living members and nearly 250 chapters.

Today, we have a greater knowledge of our history, our symbols, and the traditions that were enjoyed since the early days of our existence. We continue to have new groups express their interest in starting chapters, and we have numerous alumni reaching out to get back in touch with the Fraternity.

Despite the hardships that we have all faced this year, we continue to see our Brothers working diligently to tackle those challenges. Our Brothers in the Red and Black Brass Band have brought the joy of music to others by taking to the streets of St. Louis, Missouri. The Zeta Iota Chapter at Howard University hosted a Zoom call for its Chapter Day that was exceptionally well attended by generations of Sinfonians. Chapters across the country have found creative ways to recruit new members, even though we are physically distant from one another.

The efforts our Brothers are inspiring, and while Founder’s Day may look a little different this year, we are hopeful for a bright future.

Founder’s Day Statistics

Number of Recent National Convention: 56
Location of Recent National Convention: New Orleans, LA
Date of Recent National Convention: July 17-22, 2018
Number of Deceased Sinfonians: 14,993
Current Active Members: 5,272
Current Active Chapters: 249
Current Living Alumni: 120,142
Total Living Active and Alumni Members: 125,414
Total Chartered Chapters: 453
States in which Chapters have been Chartered: 44, and the District of Columbia
(All states except Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island)

Historical Highlights

The Invitation

For years Mills had been profoundly interested in religious work, and deeply interested in the social and moral welfare of students, particularly young men.  In 1898 he asked all the male students to meet during the noon hour once a week for a half-hour prayer meeting under his leadership. In the autumn of that year he encouraged the “Old Boys” of the Conservatory to invite the “New Boys” to a “get-acquainted” reception.

The first sign that something was going to happen came with the following circular, which was [drafted September 10 and] put into the hands of all the male students of Conservatory.

There were in the neighborhood of fifty or sixty men present on the appointed evening. An unpremeditated discussion of forming a permanent organization of men students took place. The plan met with such general approval that a meeting was called for October 6, at 7.30 P. M., in the Conservatory’s Elocution Hall.

Displayed: Invitation to September 22 reception, drafted September 10, 1898. (click to enlarge)


The Sinfonia Club

At this meeting the club was born, and Frank Leslie Stone was elected its President. The minutes of the first meeting on October 6, 1898 show that the first vote taken was to organize a club, and that the second vote was “that the primary object of the club be sociability.”

On October 25 the constitution was adopted, and so the club established a sense of real permanence. The charter members numbered thirteen active and one honorary—Ossian Everett Mills.

Displayed: The original Oct 6, 1898 Meeting Minutes (click to enlarge)

The Name “Sinfonia”

On October 25, 1898, the club’s thirteen active members and one honorary, Ossian Mills, accepted a governing document that has remained the Fraternity’s philosophy of existence to the present day.  In part it read:

The Object of this Fraternity shall be for the development of the best and truest fraternal spirit; the mutual welfare and brotherhood of musical students; the advancement of music in America and a loyalty to the Alma Mater.

At that time the name “Sinfonia” was recommended by George W. Chadwick, the “Dean of American Composers.” As the newly-elected Conservatory Director, Chadwick was very much interested in the new Club, and he suggested that they name it after a club of young men into which he had been initiated during his student days at the Royal Conservatory in Leipzig, called the “Symphonia Club.”

Displayed: Signed headshot of George Chadwick addressed to the Alpha Chapter. 1925. (click to enlarge)

George Chadwick