Jason Lim, artistic director and conductor of the McKinney Philharmonic Orchestra, is aiming to make the organization one of the leading orchestras in the region, he said.

The details

The McKinney Philharmonic Orchestra consists of 60 professional musicians playing a variety of instruments, including strings and woodwinds. The organization is a professional orchestra, rather than a community orchestra, and all of the musicians are paid, Lim said.

“The level of playing is extremely high,” Lim said. “I've had many people come to see the first concert, and they say, ‘I had no idea we had such a quality orchestra in McKinney.’ Most of them actually keep coming back so we built our audience from that.”

The McKinney Philharmonic Orchestra is a nonprofit organization funded by grants, donations, sponsorships and ticket sales, Lim said.

The orchestra performs seven concerts per season as well as two chamber music concerts and three or four recital performances. The concerts offer a variety of music styles, including pop, classical, holiday music and more.

“It's important for the orchestra to have those different [concert] series so that we engage all different kinds of people, not just classical music lovers,” Lim said.

How we got here

Lim launched the orchestra in the Denton area in 2012 as the Odysseus North Texas Chamber Orchestra. He chose to move the organization to the Collin County area about a year later, he said.

“In Denton, I think the growth that I kind of envisioned for the orchestra, ... there wasn't enough funding from the arts program,” Lim said. “I did some research, and McKinney had a good grant program.”

Following the relocation, the organization served both the McKinney and Frisco areas, he said. The organization later changed its name to the McKinney Philharmonic Orchestra.

“I think after a couple of years, we kind of realized that ... McKinney is really working to support us,” he said.

Diving in deeper

Lim launched the Greater North Texas Youth Orchestra, a youth orchestra program under the umbrella of the McKinney Philharmonic Orchestra, in 2017, according to the organization’s website.

The youth orchestra is split into three skill levels and includes over 130 youth members, Lim said.

“We ... invest a lot of time and effort in our Greater North Texas Youth Orchestra program, which creates a great environment for young people in the area who either love playing classical music or want to practice more,” said Liz Strand Cimini, board president of the McKinney Philharmonic Orchestra.

Students in the program are able to participate in a mentorship program that allows them to work with professional musicians from the McKinney Philharmonic Orchestra. The organization also performs a side-by-side concert once each season, where students are able to perform in a concert setting next to professional musicians.

“[The side-by-side concert is] always our largest concert in terms of number of patrons per year,” Strand Cimini said. “Folks love to come out and support the kids who are playing in that environment.”

Looking forward

Lim is looking to continue growing the orchestra, both in size and presence, he said.

He hopes to expand the orchestra to 80 members in the coming years as well as increase the number of concerts per season to eight or nine.

“I’d like this orchestra to be one of the leading orchestras in this region,” he said.

Another goal of the organization is to continue expanding its audience. When the orchestra first moved to the McKinney area, Lim said there were more musicians on stage than people in the audience at performances. At the most recent concert on Sept. 30, there were more than 700 audience members in attendance, Strand Cimini said.

“We're not just a musical organization, we're a community organization that connects through music,” she said of the orchestra.