Roots of a Symphony Orchestra: Dr. Norman Fawson

Not long ago, I had the chance to reconnect with a friend of mine, Rebecca Fawson, with whom I had grown up playing in orchestras around the Salt Lake City area. I informed her that I had moved to St. George, and that I was that evening attending my first rehearsal with the Southwest Symphony. “Hey,” she said, “I love the Southwest Symphony! Keep an eye out for my grandpa Norman!” She went on to explain that her grandfather plays with the orchestra, but also serves on the board, and actually founded the orchestra in 1979. How fun it was to learn that during my youth I had been just two degrees of separation away from this great organization.

Dr. Norman Fawson had a prodigious beginning in music: he was invited to play with the Dixie College Orchestra while still in the 6th grade. After playing with the Dixie College String Quartet, the University of Utah Symphony Orchestra and other organizations within his medical school, he founded the Dixie String Ensemble with Irene Everett. This organization helped to form the orchestra that performed the annual performance of Handel’s Messiah in the St. George Tabernacle. It was then, and by necessity, that Dr. Fawson picked up the viola.

Serving as chairman of the board for the first 15 years of the Symphony’s existence, he helped engineer the shell that now sits behind the orchestra during its performances in the Cox Auditorium, arranged for the Symphony to purchase more than 100 musical instruments for children in the county school district, and helped establish and teach as part of a cooperative string instrument instruction program in county schools.

It’s an honor to play alongside a member of the community that has done so much to further the cause of music education and performance. Don’t miss Dr. Fawson playing with the orchestra this Friday!