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OUR HISTORY

The Jackson Symphony will open its 64th season providing music programs to the citizens of West Tennessee in 2024-25.  The orchestra and affiliated ensembles perform for a total audience of over 30,000 annually.  It has a budget of $1.6 million and employs 65-70 musicians from throughout the region to perform in annual full-orchestra performances, including this season's 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 and has been awarded the prestigious NEA Challenge America grant in both 2022 and 2023 for its education and outreach programs.

 

Each season, the Jackson Symphony presents a seven concert subscription series with three classical concerts and four "pops" programs, with an additional family matinee each Christmas. For the last 44 years, the orchestra has performed a free outdoor concert, Starlight Symphony,  attracting 6,000+ music lovers from across West Tennessee.

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 in Jackson and West Tennessee.

 

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 next season was record breaking with 39% audience growth and three of the highest grossing concerts in the history of The Jackson Symphony. In addition, an integrative medicine program, Music and Healing, was launched under his direction. Musicians trained by Mr. Shannon have performed for thousands of patients, caregivers, and medical personnel over the years, providing the healing power of music 

Throughout its history the Symphony has demonstrated a strong commitment in the area of educational programming. In previous years, thousands of youth have been introduced to classical music and the orchestra through entertaining and educational school concerts. In addition, the Symphony's youth music programs have helped its students increase confidence, build leadership and teamwork skills, and cultivate creative expression.

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, Sinfonia Strings, was organized to provide beginning string players with their first ensemble experience, which quickly grew with the addition of a second ensemble, Camerata Strings. In 2023, all of these performing groups were incorporated into the new Jackson Symphony Music Academy, which will continue all the beloved programming as well as expand education, rehearsal, and performance opportunities to underserved students throughout West Tennessee  

In the 2023-24 season, The Jackson Symphony Music Academy opened seven Regional Music Centers across rural West Tennessee. Students in the centers receive professional instrumental and vocal instruction in their own communities at no cost and perform two concerts annually with the full Music Academy's orchestras and choirs. The first full Music Academy concert was held in April 2024 and featured more than 200 students. The National Endowment for the Arts awarded The Jackson Symphony and the Music Academy the Challenge America grant in 2023 for expanding orchestral music opportunities to students in the region.

Our History
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