Pete Tilly has been dubbed a Dean of our musical community by the membership of the America’s Federation of Musicians, Local #137. Pete is now retired after playing the violin in Orchestra Iowa for over fifty years. Most of those years he headed the player’s committee. In that capacity, he worked to negotiate contracts and strove to represent the interests of live music and of his colleagues in the orchestra. Mr. Tilly has been well liked and respected by the members of the orchestra and membership of AFM#137 for his artistry and dauntless efforts. He has been instrumental in helping the union contribute to the development of Orchestra Iowa and the superb institution it has become.

In his modesty he is quick to acknowledge the hard work of the other members of the players’ committee plus both Local #137 and AFM negotiators over the years. One of the proudest moments was negotiating the necessary changes to the terms of the contract with the orchestra after the 2008 flood. Coming to “YES” permitted the continued operation of the orchestra, and therefore continued employment of the musicians. We the members of Local#137 and the music loving people of eastern Iowa thank them all for their steadfast efforts.

Pete was born in Appleton, Wisconsin, educated in Wisconsin school system and the University of Wisconsin where he studied electrical engineering. He started playing the violin under the tutelage of his father, a public school string teacher, studied violin with Ken Byler and played in the Lawrence College Orchestra (starting as a high school sophomore through the first two years in the UW system) with its outstanding music program. While at the University of Wisconsin, he continued with lessons from faculty members and playing in the University orchestra.

He moved to Cedar Rapids to take a job at Collins Radio, where he eventually became a Senior Systems Engineer. Soon after arriving in Cedar Rapids he joined the Cedar Rapids Symphony, now Orchestra Iowa, at the insistence of Bill and Marlis Windus, longtime supporters and members of the orchestra. Peter Tilly was one of the musicians honored by the installation of the Sound Wave, an interactive musical sculpture that graces the offices of Orchestra Iowa. This piece was produced by John Schwartzkopf and Dale Merrill, the result of a partnership between the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance and Orchestra Iowa. The sculpture honors musicians whose dedication and longevity of at least 20 years of service to Orchestra Iowa has been critical to its evolution as one of America’s preeminent regional orchestras.

The membership of Local #137 is very grateful to and proud of Peter Tilly as a union musician and for his contributions to excellent music and the artists who collaborate to provide it. AFM #137 would also like to acknowledge his partner, Susan, for her support of Pete’s passion for music.

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