Sinfonia was born on October 6, 1898 at the New England Conservatory in Boston, when a group of thirteen young men under the guidance of Ossian Everett Mills met “to consider the social life of the young men students of that institution” and “to devise ways and means by which it might be improved.” Mills, bursar of the Conservatory, sought to create an Order in which men with a shared love of music could develop the virtues of manhood in themselves and in their fellows.
Sinfonia became a national fraternity on October 6, 1900, with the admission of a group of men at the Broad Street Conservatory in Philadelphia. Since that time Sinfonia has grown into the largest music fraternity in the world, with more than 150,000 initiates, and chapters on over 200 college and university campuses across the nation.
For over a century, Sinfonians in nearly every field of study and professional endeavor have transformed the face of music in America. Today, the Brotherhood represents a diverse group of individuals spanning the nation, who continue the proud tradition of advancing the Fraternity’s Object.
Sinfonia is a Brotherhood of men bound together for mutual helpfulness. Its purpose is not only to bring men together as friends, but also to provide a network of brothers with whom men can commune and renew their zeal — a support network that helps the individual to meet the challenges that face him in his daily life. By teaching men who are united as brothers to live their lives according to the noble virtues set forth in the Fraternity’s Initiation Ritual, Sinfonia builds better, stronger, broader individuals who are able to live in sympathy and in harmony with their Fraternity brothers and their fellow man. The Initiation Ritual of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, which will mark the transition into full membership, is one of the most meaningful and beautiful of the Greek tradition. The dedication to the advancement of universal Truths and brotherly association exemplified in the Ritual are the foundation of individual fraternal friendship, chapter unity, and national solidarity in the promotion of Sinfonia’s dual mission: the making of men and the uplift of mankind.
Sinfonians share a love of music that unites them as brothers with a common interest. The Fraternity teaches men to develop themselves and their art, not for the sake of art itself, but as a means of enriching the lives of others. Through a multitude of chapter, provincial, and national events, Sinfonia offers unlimited opportunities for performance, community music outreach, and other activities designed to develop a true appreciation for the power of music to uplift the soul.
Sinfonia’s collegiate chapters participate in a broad range of activities emphasizing brotherhood, service, and performance in music. Chapters take music into the community by singing at hospitals and homes for the elderly; sponsor concerts of American music, jazz and choral festivals, all-campus sings and Broadway-style reviews; provide a large variety of performing ensembles ranging from big bands to barbershop quartets; commission new works; bring prominent performers and clinicians to their campuses; and take part in a variety of other social and musical activities. The possibilities for participation in musical activities are limited only by the boundaries of imagination, desire, and commitment.
Sinfonia provides many exciting opportunities for the development of social and leadership skills in an atmosphere of brotherhood and mutual support. Leadership roles may be assumed from nearly the first day an individual is pledged to become an active member of the Fraternity. Beyond the chapter, annual province workshops and national events allow members to become more involved and to develop meaningful friendships with other musical students across the nation.
A common phrase heard among brothers in the Fraternity is “Once a Sinfonian, Always a Sinfonian.” The spirit of this phrase has fostered alumni loyalty for more than one hundred years. As an alumni member, the opportunities to remain active with the Fraternity are limitless. Alumni associations, scattered throughout the country, provide more formalized ways for alumni Sinfonians to gather together and further the ideals and Object of the Fraternity.