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John Thomas (“Tom”) Fritz was born in Dallas, Texas, and grew up in Belleville, Illinois and Taft, California. Tom’s family moved to Reedley in 1966. At Reedley High School (RHS), Tom was both the drum major for the band and concertmaster of the orchestra. He earned first chair tuba all four years in the Fresno-Madera County Honor Orchestra, as well as the 1970 All State Symphonic Band.

Tom majored in music at both Reedley College and CSU Fresno. He studied violin under Werner Lywen, concertmaster of the Fresno and New York Philharmonic Orchestras. He graduated from CSU Fresno summa cum laude in 1974 then continued postgraduate work at CSU, San Francisco. He enjoyed a 35 year teaching career with Kings Canyon Unified and the RHS Orchestra.  The District’s Orchestra program doubled under his leadership from 200 to 400 students. In 1998, his RHS orchestra was the only California group invited to perform in Washington D.C.’s Festival of States. They also performed at Disneyland, all over California, and earned many superior ratings at state festivals. Tom has directed County Honor Orchestras, the Kings Symphony Orchestra, and the Reedley College Community Orchestra. He also adjudicates State Orchestra and Solo Festivals. Tom plays professional violin, viola, and tuba and has performed with the Fresno, Kings, and Tulare Symphonies.

Tom married Marjorie, a vocal teacher and professional pianist, in 1976. They’ve lived in Dinuba and Reedley and have three sons. Now semi-retired, they still perform for many area events and direct church choirs and orchestras. Together they orchestrated two musicals which were premiered in Los Angeles, as well as continue to publish works for orchestra through R.B.C Music in Texas.

Jeff Fritz Conductor

Photo by Jacqueline Giacomazzi