The Phoenix Symphony is excited to announce we are upgrading to a new, easy-to-use ticketing system. During this transition, our TICKETING SYSTEM IS DOWN September 11, 12, 13, and 14. Our new ticketing system will be live on September 15. Sorry for any inconvenience. Feel free to browse our performances in the meantime.

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So Scottsdale: A Sweet Symphony

April, 2024

By Melissa Hirschl / Photos by Claudia Johnstone


Music makes the world go round for Phoenix Symphony’s Tammy Rocker


Tammy Rocker is poised to create more magical experiences for the Phoenix Symphony.

A vibrant voice for Phoenix Symphony, Tammy Rocker’s passion for the arts is the driving force in her new role as senior vice president and chief advancement officer. This is Rocker’s second go-around with the symphony, which is a major gem of the local arts community. In her original role as chief development officer of the symphony from 2016 to 2018, she oversaw the development department, wrote foundation grants, created sponsorships, worked with donors, and helped implement special events with her team.

While Rocker left the symphony after two years to work with the American Lung Association, the Symphony’s spirit never left her.

“I am delighted to jump back in,” she says.

When rhapsodizing about the newest season, which launched March 18, Rocker describes it as beautifully curated and magical. “We have something for everyone. Whether it’s romance, pops, something for the family, or Broadway, we cover it all,” she says. “The symphony is an incredible place to work; we are very collaborative. The musicians are incredibly talented, and I’ve gotten to know them very well over the years through donor meetings and observing rehearsals.”

One of the events Rocker is proudest of is Savor the Symphony, the Symphony’s signature fundraiser, which will take place May 7. Guests will have the intimate experience of watching the orchestra rehearse for 45 minutes to an hour, plus dining on a sumptuous lunch created by a master chef. Additional highlights include live music, silent and live auctions, and a bar.

The Starting Point

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Rocker moved to Phoenix at age 10, later attending Arcadia High School and Northern Arizona University for communications courses. She soon found her way to a nonprofit leadership program at University of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which segued into a career at the American Heart Association. In her new capacity, she marketed the ever-popular Jump Rope for Heart program, the first in a string of successful campaigns. “When I became the regional vice president for the program, I had a team of youth market directors who worked with gym teachers and principals in several states to explore ways for children to raise money for the American Heart Association (AHA) while participating in a serving learning opportunity. We were the top performers two years in a row during that time.”

As a senior vice president at the AHA’s California office, Rocker accelerated her vision by leading a team of 25 individuals to create well-known events such as the Heart Ball, Go Red for Women, and the Heart Walk. “As senior vice president, I managed 25 people, recruited participants and collected money for large events,” she says.

In her current role, Rocker thrives on being a buoyant cheerleader for the Symphony. “There is a profound difference between attending a live concert and just listening to a recording,” she says. “There is sensory stimulus, intense concentration, physical involvement of the musicians, the drama of the conductor, and the fact the audience is all live. It connects us emotionally, and I love being part of it all.”

Looking Ahead, on October 12 the Symphony will host a gala called A Wicked Night at the Symphony, an elegant black-tie event. It will include a VIP reception, dinner and dancing, and an exclusive symphony performance.

Beyond the Symphony

Rocker and her husband are the parents of five grown sons, who were originally interested in bands while younger but went on individual paths later on. Currently, Rocker has a variety of hobbies and interests that round out her busy career. A voracious reader, she reads three to four books a week, bicycles and tends her garden of tomatoes, basil, and sunflowers.

Music has always been and always will be a constant theme in Rocker’s life. “People learn that I work for the symphony and assume I like only classical, but that is not the case at all,” she says. “I have very varied taste in music, not just classical.”

Case in point: Rocker has a penchant for all types of rock music, especially New York punk bands, like Patty Smith. “My husband and I saw her a few years ago in Los Angeles at the Ace Theater,” she says. “She was 70 years old and jumping off the stage!”

At the other end of the music spectrum is country music, which Rocker discovered after watching George & Tammy, a miniseries. “I have now become the biggest George Jones fan on the face of the earth,” she says.

Rocker and her husband enjoy spinning vinyl at their second home in Pine and have added a collection of Jone’s old albums. “We’ve always played old classic rock, and now we have a new addition to our collection,” she says.

Rocker also has a soft spot for jazz, especially Ella Fitzgerald. “I listen to everyone and everything,” she says. “There is no music I have never liked. My kids have listened to a lot of music my husband and I grew up with, and it has grown on them.”

When the couple lived in Los Angeles, they saw many shows at the Greek Theatre in Griffith Park, such as Crosby, Stills and Nash. “Phoenix has a lot of great performances as well; that’s one of the reasons we love it here so much. We go to between 10 and 15 concerts a year.”

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