What began as a dream is now in its 40th Season…
The Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra began as the Mesa College Symphony in the 1930’s. In 1978, community leaders and musicians decided to found the Grand Junction Musical Arts Association, now the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra (GJSO). In August of 1987, Maestro Kirk Gustafson joined the GJSO as the Music Director and remained in that position for nearly 30 years, retiring in June of 2016.
In April of 2016, Charles Latshaw was named the new Music Director of the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra and began his tenure with the 2016-17 Season.
The GJSO, now in its 40th season, provides high-quality orchestral performances and educational programs to the residents of Mesa County, the Grand Valley and the Western Slope of Colorado. The GJSO is proud to be the largest professional orchestra between Denver and Salt Lake City and the largest arts organization in the Grand Valley. The organization has grown to a subscriber base of over 900 individuals and is a Level Six orchestra based on guidelines of the League of American Orchestras.
The Symphony performs at the newly renovated 1,000 seat Avalon Theatre in downtown Grand Junction and in the 1,500 seat Grand Junction High School Auditorium. The Symphony currently plays six classical subscription series concerts and two symphonic pop concerts in its season. Each summer, the orchestra performs a free outdoor concert for 3,000-5,000 community members. The largest fundraiser is the annual Gala which is held in the fall.
The GJSO further benefits by the existence of two groups — the Grand Junction Symphony Guild and the Grand Junction Symphony Foundation, both of which were established to ensure the longevity and success of the GJSO. The Guild hosts fundraising events and provides an extensive group of volunteers for the organization. The Foundation is a permanent endowment for the GJSO.
The music education programs encompass an annual Children’s concert that has an attendance of over 2500 elementary children each year; a Concerts in the Classroom program that sees the GJSO musicians entering nearly every elementary school in Mesa County to perform in chamber ensembles; the new Symphony Storytime, in collaboration with the Mesa County Libraries, where a book and an instrument from the orchestra are showcased together; a Young Artist Competition each year that gives the winner the opportunity to perform with the full orchestra at a subscription concert; the Crystal Baton Composition Competition program, which is a composition contest for elementary and middle school students; and the Instrument Petting Zoo, which is a hands-on interactive program that teaches children about different instruments of the orchestra.
The GJSO is proud to support several complementary groups as part of our organization. Currently, the Grand Junction Symphony Guild is the major complementary group of the organization and operates as a large fundraising, volunteer and support group for the symphony. In addition, Grand Valley Children’s Choir, Talking Rhythms, Western Colorado Chorale and Western Colorado Jazz Orchestra are complementary groups.