In the late 1960’s, the existence of separate Philharmonic groups in Wilkes-Barre and Scranton reflected the ideological separation between their namesakes. Though just a few miles apart in geography, there was little communication or shared resources between these two cities nestled in the valley of the Susquehanna River. For many local music supporters, the cooperation of the two orchestras seemed like an impossible dream, but the visionary boards of these two groups saw enormous potential.
What started as a few casual conversations between friends in early 1969 slowly began to pick up steam, and by October of that year an exploratory committee of the two organizations had defined a cooperative mission and the goal of a joint orchestra offering four performances in each city for the 1970-71 season. A press conference in January of 1970 announced the formation of the Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) Philharmonic for a two year trial period, and was cited by one television editorialist as a milestone not only in the development of the performing arts, but also as the first real breakthrough in cooperation between the two cities and other areas of the region.