Phi Mu Alpha Founder’s Day 2022

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 nearly 126,000 living members and 231 chapters.

Today, we have a greater knowledge of our history, our symbols, and the traditions that have been 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.

Today, we see our network of Brothers grow as new men begin their journey in the Brotherhood of Phi Mu Alpha as Probationary Members. We celebrate all of our accomplishments, no matter how big or small, while also honoring all that we have learned from where we have stumbled along the way.

Most of all, we still see that music maintains its crucial impact on the heart and minds of our communities. As we take our next steps, as Brothers, as men, as musicians, we are hopeful for a bright future.

Founder’s Day Statistics

Number of Recent National Convention: 57
Location of Recent National Convention: St. Louis, Missouri
Current Collegiate Members: 4,000
Current Active Chapters: 231
Current Living Alumni: 122,000
Total Living Collegiate and Alumni Members: 126,000
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)

Charter Members of the Sinfonia Club

Robert Thomas Bayley
Frederick W. Briggs – Vice President
George A. Burdick
Henry P. Dreyer
George Sawyer Dunham
Archibald M. Gardner
John Frederick Hartwell
William C. Holcomb
Albert J. Stephens
Frank Leslie Stone – President
Shirley Francis Stupp – Secretary
William Elmer Tanner
Delbert Lorenzo Webster
Ossian Everett Mills – Treasurer and Honorary Member

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 the 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