America’s longest-serving music director retires after 63 years

Alvin Mills founded the Brentwood-Westwood Symphony Orchestra in Los Angeles in 1955. Now, at 94, he is getting ready to hand over the baton on May 15.

His role model – his, and so many others, in conducting and longevity – was Pierre Monteux.



‘I’ll be very sorry it’s over,’ Mills tells an LA Times reporter. ‘It’s as simple as that.’

Read the full feature here.



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  • Mills occasionally wondered in later years what it might have been like to conduct a major orchestra. But he found joy in working on a smaller stage — public school auditoriums, usually — shaping an orchestra made up of local talent.

    “That might be your son or daughter in the orchestra, or your mother or father. And there’s the fact that it’s the community orchestra. It belongs to the people,” Mills says.


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