In 1986, Malcolm Johnstone had a wish for Pendleton to have a symphony orchestra. He contacted R. Lee Friese and they gathered together a group of talented East Oregonians on July 30, 1986. Their goal was to create a symphony association which would enrich community life and provide access to music for youth and adults.
The first rehearsal was held in Septmeber 1986 with 41 musicians. The Oregon East Symphony has continued to build on the vision of the founders by making it possible for all who live in Eastern Oregon to participate with talented and dedicated regional musicians in the joy of beautiful music.