Mission and History

The mission of the GSO

To engage and enrich diverse audiences through the presentation of music at the highest artistic level and to provide programs and education that instill a lifelong appreciation for the arts.

With an estimated 15,000 patrons annually and over 800 people who participate in our programs, the Georgia Symphony Orchestra offers musical opportunities to the greater North Georgia and Metro-Atlanta region. As a standing regional semi-professional symphony orchestra, GSO encompasses a full symphony Chorus, a Chamber Chorus, a professional jazz ensemble and the largest youth orchestra in the Southeast.

The Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra (GYSO) alone encompasses three full youth orchestras, a string orchestra, a jazz ensemble, and a percussion ensemble. Its mission is to inspire young people to discover their full potential through creativity and performance, and to develop the discipline and spirit to accomplish their musical goals.

The GSO is dedicated to becoming a catalyst for community collaborations, broadening the musical experience of current and future audiences with love and appreciation for their art. Further, we endeavor to enhance the quality of cultural life in our communities.


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 Music 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 a 2-year search process reviewing over 130 candidates from across the world, the GSO selected Timothy Verville as its new Music Director beginning in the fall of 2016.

Orchestral and choral highlights from 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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