The Williamson County Symphony Orchestra was formed under the name Hill Country Community Orchestra in early 2002. The Orchestra was established to provide an opportunity for non-professional adult musicians and talented students to perform in a dedicated orchestra environment. Many of the founding musicians played in small ensembles for various churches throughout the area. The idea of combining musicians from multiple churches into a larger Orchestra was often discussed.


The Orchestra was founded through the initiative of violinist Mary Ann Hetrick, a member of Anderson Mill Baptist Church, who wanted to provide an outlet for musicians like herself in the community who enjoyed performing together. She placed a public service announcement in a local paper and solicited the help of her friend, Becky Hamilton, also a violinist at Anderson Mill Baptist Church, to help organize the group should anyone respond to the announcement. One of the first responses came from Dr. Thomas E. Rainey (Doc), who was then a music director at McNeil High School. With great enthusiasm, Doc volunteered to serve as the Director of music and conduct the Orchestra.

Mary Ann and Becky took responsibility for communicating with interested individuals during the initial phase of forming the orchestra. Doc held practices every other Sunday afternoon at the McNeil High School band hall starting in March of 2002 to find out who was interested in consistently participating. About 45 musicians initially responded with most of those musicians making at least one or two of the Sunday practices. By the end of June of 2002, Dr. Rainey determined, with the concurrence of John Gordon and Sara Manning, that staying with a twice-monthly-Sunday-afternoon practice would restrict the development of the Orchestra. Dr. Rainey made the decision to move to a weekly practice on Monday evenings. Out of the original 45 musicians, 15 remained to form the Orchestra.

Those founding musicians who started out with the Orchestra during its March-April-May-June beginning, stayed with the Orchestra through the changeover to Monday practices, and continued through the initial Sun City performance are:

  • Jenny Acevedo, Clarinet
  • Brett Bacchus, Cello
  • Fred Behning, Oboe
  • Amy Cheng, Violin
  • John Gordon, Trumpet
  • Lauri Gillam, Violin
  • Mary Ann Hetrick, Violin
  • Phil Kalz, Trombone
  • Sara Manning, Flute
  • Cynthia Nguyen, Violin
  • Tracy Roundtree, Violin
  • Lindsey Smith, Flute
  • John Walter, Bassoon
  • Kevin Whitelaw, Trumpet
  • Dr. Thomas Rainey, Conductor

During the first weekly Monday night practices in July and August of 2002, a wave of 12 new musicians joined to reinforce the efforts of the founding members:

  •  Brent Acuff, Percussion
  • Tamara Acuff, Clarinet
  • Laura Castleman, Violin
  • Greg Cruess, Percussion
  • Stephen Dumas, Trombone
  • Bill Kolter, String Bass
  • Chris Matlock, Tuba
  • Dorris “Junior” Smith, Viola
  • Eric Tracy, Oboe
  • John Triggs, Cello
  • Kristen Vanderschaaf, Flute
  • Rachel Willis, French Horn

The number of musicians was still not sufficient to allow the Orchestra to perform in concert. Fortunately a second wave of 18 musicians joined in during fall 2002 and early 2003 allowing the Orchestra to successfully perform at Sun City:

  • Kathy Anderson, Violin
  • Matt Green, Percussion
  • Rick Hauenstein, French Horn
  • Michelle Jetton, Clarinet
  • Kyle Keyes, French Horn
  • Bethany Malone,Violin
  • Hannah Malone, Viola
  • Nathan Malone, Violin
  • Rachel Malone, Violin
  • Debbie Oulicky, French Horn
  • Robert Pearson, Cello
  • Kate Reavis, Bass Clarinet
  • Stephanie Seaman, French Horn
  • Katherine Steele, Violin
  • Billy Short, Bassoon
  • Jason Tsui, Violin
  • Evan Tuuk, Violin
  • Cindy Vivonna, Clarinet
  • Tim Wingfield, Trombone

Founding Board of Directors

In May of 2002, John Gordon initiated the organizational development of the Hill Country Community Orchestra. He drafted a set of bylaws for the organization, which were reviewed by Doc, Mary Ann, and Becky and approved by vote of the musicians. Dr. Rainey was subsequently elected as the Director of Music, John Gordon – President, Brett Bachus – Vice President, Sara Manning – Secretary, Lauri Gillam – Treasurer, and Michael Rey – Director of Public Relations. By mid June, the initial legal steps to set up an organization – create a Bylaws and elect a founding Board of Directors – had been completed.

Next, upon Dr. Rainey’s recommendation, the musicians voted to move practices to Monday nights. Round Rock High School band hall became the practice home for the orchestra. Secretary Sara Manning provided invaluable service in keeping all participating musicians informed of the Orchestra’s activities during the fall as the new musicians joined in.

In August of 2002, John Gordon completed the application process for the Hill Country Community Orchestra to become a corporation in the State of Texas. By March 2003, John had complete the application for and received word from the IRS that the Hill Country Community Orchestra had been granted 501(c)(3) recognition as a non-profit organization.

In 2004, under John Gordon’s guidance, the Bylaws were modified to expand the Board of Directors and the name of the corporation was changed from Hill Country Community Orchestra to the Williamson County Symphony Orchestra Society.

By late fall of 2002, the Orchestra had grown to 40 musicians. Dr. Rainey had directed twenty-four practices working on sufficient pieces to assure the Board of Directors that the Williamson County Symphony Orchestra could launch its inaugural concert season in the spring of 2003. John Gordon then set up four concerts starting with the first at the Texas Ballroom of Sun City in Georgetown Texas. That first concert on a Saturday night, February 22, 2003, featured Dr. Thomas E. Rainey conducting 45 musicians of the Williamson County Symphony Orchestra to the enjoyment of a very appreciative audience.

With this successful completion of its inaugural concert, the Orchestra established itself as a viable organization to bring beautiful music to the communities throughout Williamson County. Dr. Rainey and the volunteer musicians look forward to the continued growth and improvement of the Orchestra as it provides an outlet for amateur musicians to share God’s gift of their talent.