The Alton Symphony Orchestra (ASO) is a blessing for my local communities. It is not funded on the tax roles of the local communities, yet remains a premier symphony orchestra providing healthy entertainment for adults and children through concerts designed especially for them. While grants have been cut significantly and funding has become a struggle, the volunteer board and musicians work very hard to present live performances. I am inspired by their efforts to stay alive during these difficult financial times. ASO remain dedicated to preserving the traditions of this superior community orchestra. Despite financial hardships, ASO maintains its 67 years old traditions of mentoring to young artists, growing community involvement through participation in local celebrations, events and through its fine concert programing. We stay the goal of being the live music symphony orchestra gem, enhancing the quality for life in the Riverbend communities. We are proud to maintain the tradition of being a volunteer combined orchestra consisting of professional musicians as well as retired, student and young adult musicians. Our young artist scholarship program continues to be most notable with its keen competitions for money and the right to perform with the full court orchestra. ASO will perform "The Planets" on February 26, a symphony rarely performed by volunteer community orchestras such as the Alton Symphony Orchestra. I am personally touched by the tireless efforts of the musicians and volunteer board to do the best in spite of the lack of funding. Some members contribute their own personal resources to help this wonderful organization.