GSO’s first performance was in 1975 under the baton of Director Noel Gilbert; GSO has since grown to an organization composed of 80+ musicians. Rehearsals were initially hosted at Germantown High School in 1975, were moved to Germantown Presbyterian Church, and have been located at GPAC since its opening. GSO is now proud to call itself the Community Orchestra in Residence at GPAC! GSO welcomes musicians from teens to seniors --- from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The common denominator is members’ passion for music performance; we are proud to be a part of one of the country’s finest all-volunteer orchestras.
Memorable Moments in GSO History
June 30, 1981 – Concert at the JCC with three young violin soloists. One was Alan Gilbert, now conductor of the New York Philharmonic, and one was his sister, Jennifer, who has had an international career as a violinist and chamber music performer. The proud grandfather, Noel Gilbert, was the conductor.
February 15, 1992 – Our second Gala concert, dinner and auction at the Omni Hotel, featuring Strauss waltzes and red-haired soloist Hildegarde McCullar in a heartfelt performance of “Vienna, City of My Dreams” for a rapt audience. 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 was triangle soloist in The Pink Panther. Also performed: 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 sparkly magenta dress, waiting to play the Schumann Piano Concerto after intermission. When Albert Pertalion 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. In respect, 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 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... The privilege of performing in a lovely Lutheran church downtown. The orchestra was augmented by three members of member Anne 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; 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.
2015-2016 as the resident orchestra of GPAC, the GSO’s 40th anniversary, the 15th under the baton of Dr. Ronald Vernon, and the 15th anniversary of its Young Artists Concerto Competition. Former GSO conductors John Hodges and Patricia Brumbaugh joined Ron Vernon and the GSO along wit special guests, violinist Daniel Gilbert who performed Kabalevsky’s Violin Concerto in C Major with Anthony Gilbert conducting, to create an exciting and memorable evening of music. Both Daniel and Anthony are grandchildren of GSO founding conductor, Noel Gilbert.
~compiled by Ann Kendall Ray