The Jackson Symphony has completed over 60 seasons providing music programs to the citizens of West Tennessee. The orchestra and affiliated ensembles perform for a total audience of over 30,000 annually. It has a budget of over $700,000 and employs 65-70 musicians from throughout the region to perform in 13 annual full-orchestra performances, including the seven concert subscription series. The Jackson Symphony presents internationally known guest artists and provides performance opportunities for aspiring young soloists. It has received funding from the Tennessee Arts Commission since 1968.
The Jackson Symphony was founded in 1961 by a group of leading citizens to bring classical music to the City of Jackson and surrounding communities. The orchestra's first Music Director was James Petty, a high school music teacher. Mr. Petty remained as Conductor of the orchestra through the 1986 Season when Dr. Jordan Tang was appointed to the post of Music Director and Conductor. Under the leadership of Dr. Tang, the Jackson Symphony became the leading cultural organization of Jackson and the surrounding counties of West Tennessee.
Each season, the Jackson Symphony presents a six concert subscription series with three classical concerts and three "pops" programs. The orchestra also performs an annual no admission outdoor Starlight Symphony summer concert which attracts more than 6,000 music lovers.
Throughout its history the Symphony has demonstrated a strong commitment in the area of educational programming. Each year thousands of youngsters are introduced to classical music and the orchestra through entertaining and educational school concerts and Open Rehearsal Program.
The Camerata Youth Orchestra was founded in 1989 in order to provide an outstanding performance opportunity to intermediate and advanced level students. In the fall of 1999, the group was expanded to a full youth orchestra, The Jackson Symphony Youth Orchestra. In February 1998, the Sinfonia Strings, was organized to provide beginning string players with their first ensemble experience.
Additionally, the Jackson Symphony provides several in-school touring chamber ensembles. In the 1997-98 Season, Master classes were introduced, enabling symphony musicians and guests to share their expertise with area music students. The Symphony also employs a string instructor who teaches group and private string lessons at the Symphony’s music studios.
In the 2014-2015 season, Peter Shannon became the third Artistic Director and Conductor for The Jackson Symphony. Shannon’s artistic leadership with the professional musicians of the Symphony has created a musical ensemble of unparalleled excellence. The 2015 – 2016 was record breaking with a 39% audience growth and three of the highest grossing concerts in the history of The Jackson Symphony. In addition, an Integrative Medicine Program was begun with the Jackson-Madison County General Hospital and the Alice and Carl Kirkland Cancer Center. Musicians trained by Mr. Shannon have performed for hundreds of patients, caregivers, and medical personnel providing the healing power of music.