GSO History

For over six decades, the Georgia Symphony Orchestra has engaged audiences through imaginative programming, visionary leadership and critically acclaimed performances.

The Georgia Symphony Orchestra began in the music room of the home of Arthur F. Moor at 383 Church Street in Marietta as the Marietta Music Club. His daughter and a member of the Marietta Music Club, Elizabeth Moor Tomlinson, so loved the orchestra that upon her death she bequeathed $50,000 to it and her brother, Ralph C. Moor, continued to support the GSO in his sister’s name until recently passing at 102 years old.

Since its founding in 1951, the quality of the orchestra’s performances steadily increased over the years due to the dedication and talent of its musicians and of Betty Shipman Bennett, the GSO’s conductor from 1955 until her retirement in 1989. Her successor Steven Byess continued attracting other local talented musicians to the GSO and, while he served as Music Director, he expanded the number of professional musicians and continued raising the artistic standards of the orchestra.

In July 2004, Michael Alexander’s tenure as Musical Director began with the Georgia Symphony Orchestra while the orchestra continued to grow. In 2007, the Georgia Symphony Chorus was formed under the direction of Bryan Black and continues to draw accomplished vocalists from the greater metro area to perform choral/orchestral works with the GSO and to produce independent choral concerts as well. Alexander’s final concert with the Georgia Symphony Orchestra was performed in May 2015, leaving the Georgia Symphony Orchestra poised to select a new Music Director. After reviewing over 130 candidates from across the world as part of a 2-year process, the GSO search committee has identified three finalists for the Music Director position. These accomplished musicians will conduct the three Master Works Concerts of the 2015-16 season.

Orchestral and choral highlights of previous seasons include Mahler’s Second Symphony, Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony and Orff’s Carmina Burana.

Over the past 65 years, the orchestra has changed its name from the Marietta Music Club to the Marietta Community Symphony, the Cobb Symphony Orchestra, and finally to the Georgia Symphony Orchestra as the organization’s mission and role in the community has expanded. Today audiences across the region are engaged and enriched by the musical gifts of the Georgia Symphony Orchestra.

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