Germantown Symphony Orchestra
The Germantown Symphony Orchestra is an all-volunteer symphony orchestra made up of musicians from all over the Mid-South. The membership of the orchestra is a microcosm of the community, as it includes doctors, lawyers, retirees, students, teachers, business professionals, stay-at-home moms, and everything in between. This diverse membership joins together and donates its time and energy purely for the joy of creating music together to share with Mid-South communities.
The GSO was founded in 1975 by six local musicians interested in forming a community orchestra under the baton of Director Noel Gilbert. Through the leadership of only four Music Directors (Noel Gilbert, John Hodges, Patricia Brumbaugh, and Ronald Vernon), the last forty-two years have seen the orchestra develop from a pops orchestra into the current eighty-five member Germantown Symphony Orchestra, the Community Orchestra in Residence at GPAC. With this development into a full symphony orchestra has come programming expansion, with annual programming including both a complete classical series of four concerts and a summer pops concert series that travels throughout the Mid-South. The GSO has even represented the state of Tennessee at the Festival of the States Music Festival in Washington, D.C, in 2006. This unique history of musical programming led to the City of Germantown proclaiming April 23, 2016, as Germantown Symphony Orchestra Day to honor the GSO’s forty years of musical service to the community.
One unique aspect of the GSO is the organization’s ability to create community for its members and audiences alike. The GSO has four charter members from forty-two years ago still playing with the orchestra, and many members have been with the orchestra for almost twenty years. The GSO creates a warm family-like environment in which its diverse membership can learn and perform, and new members are welcome to join at any time. Just as it is in the orchestra, community is also created in the GSO’s audience. At a GSO classical concert, it is possible to see a family with school-age children that has come to watch their school music teacher perform. At the summer pops concerts, it is completely normal to see multi-generational families enjoying a picnic dinner with their neighbors while they listen to a live orchestra in their own hometown. The GSO creates community, both for the music makers and the audience members.
Memorable Moments in GSO History
|June 30, 1981||Concert at the Jewish Community Center with three young violin soloists: Alan Gilbert, now conductor of the New York Philharmonic; his sister, Jennifer, who has had an international career as a violinist and chamber music performer; and the proud grandfather Noel Gilbert who was the conductor.|
|February 15, 1992||
Our second Gala concert, dinner and auction at the Omni Hotel, featuring Strauss waltzes and redhaired soloist Hildegarde McCullar in a heartfelt performance of “Vienna, City of My Dreams”. The orchestra’s music director was John M. Hodges.
|April 7, 1993||Opening of Cat Country at the Memphis Zoo – an outdoor performance of Carnival of the Animals with Pam McKnight and Stephen Field as piano soloists; Milton Okeon, as triangle soloist in The Pink Panther; and an arrangement of Born Free by John Hodges.|
|March 22, 1997||A full house at the GPAC, with Edwin Hubbard as guest conductor. Pam McKnight in a sparkly magenta dress, was waiting to play the Schumann Piano Concerto after intermission, when Albert Pertalion, GPAC Director, came onstage, looking for a doctor. We learned that Mr. Hubbard had collapsed backstage, not long after directing the orchestra and chorus in portions of the Mozart Requiem. Out of respect, the orchestra and audience went quietly home.|
|September 28, 1997||Feathers, Fins and Fangs concert at the GPAC, with lines of children so long that the concert started thirty minutes late. The conductor was Pat Brumbaugh, who also directed a concert of organ concertos at Evergreen Presbyterian Church later that year.|
|June, 2005||We were soaked just as we began our concert on the Savannah, TN River bluff, and crowded under flapping canvas party tents in blowing rain, thunder and lightning. After reboarding the bus, cold and wet, we continued our concert under the direction of Dr. Ronald Vernon at the nearby high school.|
|June, 2006||Unforgettable moments on our June, 2006 trip to Washington for the Festival of The States which included the excitement of playing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as thunderclouds formed overhead; the pleasure of playing for an appreciative audience at the National Veterans’ Home, including veterans from Mississippi and Tennessee; and the privilege of performing in a lovely Lutheran church downtown. The orchestra was augmented by three members of member Aunt Motley’s family, wind and brass players.|
|March 5, 2011||Under the baton of Dr. Ronald Vernon, our thirty-fifth anniversary concert featured The Inventions Trio (Bill Mays – piano, Marvin Stamm – trumpet, and Alisa Horn – cello) in a distinctive combination of jazz and orchestra arranged specifically for the event by Bill Mays. Also on the program were the Three Preludes of Dr. Don Freund, commissioned for our thirtieth anniversary.|
For more information visit: www.germantownsymphony.org