Johnson City Symphony Orchestra celebrating 50 years

The Johnson City Symphony Orchestra is celebrating its 50th anniversary this season. The Orchestra will observe the milestone this year but also plans to continue building toward a bright future.

For the past 50 years, the Johnson City Symphony Orchestra has been thrilling the Tri-Cities with one fabulous concert after another.

The 2019-20 concert season continues the grand tradition with exciting performances by regional and international artists. What is so special about having a symphony orchestra in our community?

“Everything!” says Rob Seebacher, musical conductor since 2008, and his excitement is contagious as he continues to lead a 70-member orchestra filled with accomplished musicians and guest artists from around the globe.

As Seebacher explains, “It’s rare for a group of 70 people to be fully concentrated on doing one thing for the greater good. Being in the concert hall, you can’t help but feel the cohesiveness, joint ambition, and extraordinary sense of human kinship. The orchestra and the audience – we are all in it together as active participants playing a crucial role in the creation and enjoyment of musical excellence.”

How do you sustain a 50-year partnership between the JCSO and the Tri-Cities? It’s a collaboration between the symphony and the community, with the belief that having a symphony orchestra is a visible and cultural contribution and an asset that helps to attract new businesses and residents to the area.

There is great strength in its ability to feature local guest artists, hire regional musicians and support internationally known artists such as Bela Fleck, Valentina Lisitsa, Chee-Yun, Bella Hristova, The Canadian Brass, and the Celtic ensemble, Mithril. The JCSO is also able to collaborate with other artists to present the Nutcracker as Tchaikovsky wrote it, featuring a full symphony and a full ballet. The orchestra also aids in efforts to introduce local schoolchildren to music.

In 1969, a project was launched to establish a community orchestra and that promise has evolved year after year to reach extraordinary heights. For Spenser Weese, Principal Bass Trombone for the past 10 years, the concert featuring Holst’s Planets is a great example of the JCSO’s evolution.

“It’s a notoriously demanding piece which requires unwavering concentration from everyone on the stage, bringing a sense of euphoria and appreciation to be taking part in such a momentous performance,” Weese said.

The 2019-20 concert season will be a tribute to 50 years of history, but it will also represent another step into a bright future. The season will begin with Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker on Dec. 14-15. The collaboration with the East Tennessee Ballet Academy will take place inside Milligan’s Seeger Chapel at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14 and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 15.

For more information on this season’s schedule or to purchase tickets, visit or call 423.926.8742. Tickets are also available at the door.


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