History of the Wickenburg Children's cultural Organization - formerly known as the Wickenburg Cultural Organization and the Wickenburg Chamber Orchestra

At Christmas time in 1992, a small group of musicians met for the first time to play a few carols. Before long they were meeting weekly; first in the basement of Saint Alban's church, then, as the group expanded, in the Community Center.

In the fall of 1993, they found a new home in the Desert Caballeros Western museum classrooms where for five years, the group met and rehearsed every Monday from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.

Two young boys were playing violin with them at the time and when they realized that there was no orchestral program in Wickenburg schools and that they had to go to Phoenix for lessons. The WCO decided to do something about it.

In March of 1995, after a successful "Messiah" performance at the Community Center, the Wickenburg Chamber Orchestra incorporated as a non-profit organization and began to raise funds to provide Wickenburg children with musical opportunities. The community responded with donations and WCO obtained our first grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

In November of 1997, the Wickenburg Chamber Orchestra received the prestigious "Best of the West" award from the Westmarc Foundation for "Contribution to the Arts".

In September 2003, in recognition of WCO's work for the community, Meridian Bank donated the beloved, historic Garcia Little Red Schoolhouse to the organization. The 100-year-old building is on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can see a growing collection of memorabilia dating back to 1884, including photographs, documents and yearbooks. We provide daily tours and special historical events to keep the rich history of the building and early education in Wickenburg alive. The WCO is currently partnering with the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in an exhibit in the building that resembles an authentic schoolroom from the early 1900s.

In the fall of 2004, the WCO was awarded a grant from the Arizona Humanities Council to conduct an Oral History Project. The project resulted in the collection of many stories from former students at the Garcia Little Red Schoolhouse, the research and display of historical documents and photographs of early education in Wickenburg, and the presentation of the findings at a special event for the public. That event was so successful in April of 2005, that it was considered as an annual event for the community.

In 2006 WCO received a grant from the Wellik Foundation to renovate the Little Red School House, including roofing and remodel of the basement storage and lavatory area. This contributed a great deal toward preserving the building. 

In 2007 WCO received a grant from Cox Charities to expand the availability of the Brummitt-Taylor music program to local schools and other “Music Matters, Especially to Children” programs. As a result, the “Birdies” of the Phoenix Thunderbirds Charities, made a grant for the same purposes.

Late 2007 Wickenburg Cultural Organization received an A. Wallace Denny Grant through the Arizona Community Foundation


This project provided services of a music teacher to staff a string instrument class in an after school program 2 times a week with one prep hour for 30 weeks of the school year with an end of the year and mid year performance.  We partnered with the Phoenix Conservatory of Music to provide instructors.


This allowed the music program in both pilot schools, Aguila and Morristown, to go to the next level.  Both have successfully used the Brummitt/Taylor Listening program for a number of years.  WCO has provided on site string performers.  One of the schools feel strongly the anecdotal evidence is there proving increased music education has increased academic achievement. There is research that confirms this belief. The two pilot school leaders Don German and Lucille Thompson, agree this is the best model for such a program.


The program has been a desire of all the WCO rural schools who can currently not afford a certified music specialist in their small budgets.   We have had this plan in mind for a number of years without funding to set up the pilot. The grant targets Western Maricopa County.  The results were so positive that both schools wrote and received grants that will fund the continuation and expansion of the program for five more years.  We went on to seed a similar program at Model Creek School in Yarnell, funded mainly by the Elidean Bittner Fund of the WCO.  In January 2010 we began with both string and brass instruments at Hassayampa Elementary in Wickenburg and in the Fall of 2010 will seed the program in Congress School. .


In March 2009, the board of the WCO changed the name to Wickenburg Children's cultural Organization to more accurately represent what we actually do.

A climatic event was the First Annual Music Camp in 2010.  This brings us closer to our dream of an area Youth Orchestra.

Since its inception, the WCO has expanded its programs to reach more children and to serve the community in a variety of creative ways.

The Red Hat Ladies of Congress Check Out the History of the Garcia Little Red School House


Warning, Babelfish translations may not be literal.

Wickenburg Children's cultural Organization · 245 N. Tegner St.· Wickenburg AZ 85390· web: www.wco.org ·

email: music@wco.org

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