Remembering Lewis Dalvit

It is with great sadness that we say farewell to our wonderful friend and founder, Lewis Dalvit.

Maestro Lewis Dalvit passed away on the morning of May 23, 2024, in Johnson City, TN at the age of 98.

He was born in Beloit, Wisconsin to Anita and Lewis D. Dalvit Sr., and in his own words told everyone “All I want to do is make beautiful music.” And indeed, that is what he did.

Lewis began his music training in elementary school when his father gave him a clarinet he bought from a traveling salesman.

At the age of 17, he enlisted in the United States Air Corps as a radio man on the B-17 bombers. And because he was such a talented clarinetist, much to his delight, he was frequently whisked away from field duties to play concerts and dances for the officers in the Air Corps dance bands.

When he returned home after the War, Lewis formed the very popular Lewis Dalvit Dance Orchestra while pursuing his formal Music education at Beloit College (WI) and Chicago’s VanderCook College of Music.

He married violinist, Pat Dougan Dalvit who persuaded him to become a symphony conductor because she needed a place for her violin students to play.

At first Lewis balked and told Pat that he couldn’t conduct classical music “because it made him cry.” However, Pat persisted and together they formed the Beloit (Janesville) Symphony (WI) with Lewis as conductor (1953-63).

Lewis was accepted into Pierre Monteux’s Domaine School for Conductors in Hancock Maine where he became a masterclass protegee (1958-62).

In 1962 he made his Carnegie Hall debut with Toscanini’s Symphony of the Air and soon after he was appointed the Assistant Conductor of the Honolulu Symphony and director of the touring orchestra.

Maestro Dalvit’s legacy encompasses the establishment of flourishing orchestras and educational music programs that inspired young artists and launched generations of professional careers.

His innovative orchestral development strategies have been recognized by the U.S. Congress and the National Endowment for the Arts.

In addition to founding the Beloit/Janesville Symphony, he built the Mississippi Symphony from community to regional status, and pioneered the first integrated string music program in the Jackson, Mississippi public schools (1966-1989).

While conductor of the Johnson City (TN) Symphony Orchestra (1989-2004), he founded the Youth Orchestra and established the Harris Suzuki School of Music. He also founded the East Tennessee Regional Symphony to present children’s concerts and special youth programming.

Maestro Dalvit guest conducted extensively throughout Europe, USA, Canada and Central America and appeared with notable orchestras including the Pittsburgh Symphony, Stuttgart Philharmonic, American University Symphony at Wolf Trap (Washington, D.C.), Atlanta Symphony, Calgary Symphony and the Regina Symphony.

As a much sought after ballet conductor he worked with major stars of the American Ballet Theatre and the New York City Ballet and led American tours for Valery and Galina Panov and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

As the  resident conductor for the International Ballet Competition in Jackson Mississippi, he was featured in the award-winning film, To Dance for Gold.

Lewis conducted many of the leading artists of the 20th and 21st centuries including Leontyne Price, Ella Fitzgerald, Van Cliburn, Lili Kraus, John Browning, Roberta Peters, Maureen Forester,  PDQ Bach’s Peter Schickle,  Jan Peerce, Robert Merrill, Gary Karr, Carlos Montoya, Eugene Fodor,  Benny Goodman, Jack Benny, Vincent Price, Doc Severinsen, Helen Reddy, Pearl Bailey and the entire Sesame Street cast.

In 1972, Lewis and Pat became summer residents of St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada. Pat fulfilled her dream of living in a log cabin, which she designed on the Bay of Fundy.

They collected stones from the beach for the fireplace and cut down cedar logs from their own land for the walls. Pat crafted tables, chests of drawers, and bunk beds from driftwood, and transformed old Cadillac car seats from a local junkyard into reclining armchairs.

Over the years Lewis began to feel strongly that St. Andrews was the perfect environment for aspiring students to come to study the performing arts. In 1982  he  founded The St. Andrews Arts Council  to provide educational programming and performance opportunities for students from beginner to pre-professional through masterclasses and workshops through the Council’s Summer School for the Performing Arts.

For more detailed information about Lewis’s career please go to Maestro Lewis Dalvit-A Life in Music at

Lewis is survived by daughters, Jacqueline Guthrie and Stephanie McPhillips; five grandchildren, Anne, David, Sean, Kristin, and Kyle; six great-grandchildren, and two sisters in law, Jacqueline Dougan Jackson and Joan Dougan Schmidt and many nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his wife, Patricia Dougan Dalvit, his parents and several beloved golden retrievers.

A Memorial Service and Celebration of Lewis’s life will be held in August 2024 in St. Andrews, NB Canada.

To honor Lewis’s dedication to the beauty of music, in lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in his memory to the St. Andrews Arts Council, a lasting testament to his inspiring legacy for young artists.

You can make a donation via E-Transfer to

or via PayPal below

or via cheque made out to:

The St. Andrews Arts Council

269 Holts Point Road 

Bocabec,  NB Canada

E5B 3N4

Thanks for the memories Lewie. You will be missed.


Thank you