The Jefferson Symphony Orchestra
Dr. William Morse, Music Director and Principal Conductor
The Jefferson Symphony Orchestra (JSO) began as the Mines Chamber Ensemble in 1953, with educators and students desiring to display their passion for great music and its performance. The name soon changed to Golden Civic Orchestra. By 1955 the Golden Symphony Orchestra was performing primarily at Golden High School. In 1957, the orchestra was recognized as the largest ensemble, based on community size, in the United States. The Golden Symphony Association received its 501(c)(3) tax status in 1960 as a charitable entity with “education” the designated primary focus area.
In 1962, T. Gordon Parks became Music Director and Conductor. Maestro Parks is considered to be one of the truly innovative forces in the genre of “volunteer community orchestras.” Over the fifty-plus seasons, the Jefferson Symphony has performed with many nationally acclaimed artists, including: Doc Severinsen, Eugene Fodor, Dick Hyman, Carmen Dragon, Eugenia Zuckerman, Ruth Laredo and Jeffrey Siegel. The Jefferson Symphony also takes great pride in providing exposure to locally renowned musicians as well. The Young Artists Competition began in 1959, attracting and rewarding young contestants from all over the world.
In 1972, the name Jefferson Symphony Orchestra was adopted to reflect the organization's county-wide community outreach and involvement by musicians, audiences, and Board focus. Also in 1972, the orchestra began performing in the Green Center on the Colorado School of Mines campus in Golden as well as providing free Summer Concerts in the parks of Jefferson County. The collaboration with the School of Mines is just one of the decades-long relationships in the community that the JSO relies on for support.
In 1994, Dr. Antonia Joy Wilson was hired as Conductor and in 1999, Dr. William Morse became Music Director and Conductor, a position he continues to hold today. The Fiftieth Anniversary Season of the JSO was celebrated in 2002, and in 2003 the Colorado House of Representatives bestowed a certification of recognition to the orchestra and to then Director, Jack Galland, both for distinction in the field of volunteerism.
For over 60 years, the Jefferson Symphony Orchestra has been making music that thousands of people in and around Jefferson County have enjoyed. It is a community orchestra, comprised of more than 75 volunteer musicians. The members work long hours “after work” to present performances of professional quality. Although a number of our musicians also play professionally in other venues, many of them are not professional musicians; that is, they make their living in areas outside of music. What motivates them to play in the symphony is the same thing that motivates the thousands of people who attend the concerts — a love of good music.
Many individuals and businesses have supported the symphony because of what it has meant to them and their employees, namely, a great artistic resource. In the same way that good music adds a new dimension of awareness and pleasure to an individual, the symphony has brought a new dimension to the quality of life in Jefferson County.
The symphony is a non-profit organization supported by contributions from individuals, corporations, businesses, foundations, such as the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), Colorado Creative Industries, the City of Golden, the Wilmot Trust, and the Golden Civic Foundation. The T. Gordon Parks Trust, left to the association following the death of Maestro T. Gordon Parks, also funds the symphony, and of course, our loyal and generous patrons. In addition, ticket sales and fundraising events, as well as the ongoing efforts of the Jefferson Symphony, provide the necessary funding to support the orchestra. The symphony performs five subscription concerts in its winter season under the direction of Dr. Morse, some local recitals by orchestra members, and a summer contemporary (Pops) concert in Parfet Park, Golden, under the baton of Associate Conductor Steve Mallinson. A 10-15 member Board of Directors oversees symphony operations. The annual budget of the Jefferson Symphony Orchestra is over $150,000.