Johnson City Symphony celebrates 50 fabulous years

Published 10:36 am Monday, November 25, 2019

For the past 50 years, the Johnson City Symphony Orchestra (JCSO) has been thrilling the Tri-Cities with one fabulous concert after another. The 2019-2020 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:

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

• Local guest artists

• Hiring regional musicians

• An orchestra that can support internationally known artists such as Bela Fleck, Valentina Lisitsa, Chee-Yun, Bella Hristova, The Canadian Brass, and the Celtic ensemble, Mithril.

• Collaboration with musicians that can present a magnificent performance like the Nutcracker, just as Tchaikovsky wrote it, featuring a full symphony and a full ballet performance.

• Instrument petting zoos for local schoolchildren.

It’s about keeping the promise. 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.” Seebacher believes that every orchestra should be the community’s orchestra and that bringing great music, at a world class standard in a concert hall that is open to everyone, is the goal of every performance. “If it’s your first time to attend a concert, you will be highly entertained and if it’s the 50th time you’ve attended, you will continue to be stimulated and excited by the music. Just come to enjoy the music and we’ll take care of the rest.”

The 2019-2020 concert season is a glorious tribute to 50 years of unsurpassed musical brilliance, with unparalleled excitement about the future of the Tri-Cities’ symphony orchestra. Don’t miss the upcoming concerts for the 2019-2020 anniversary season! For more information, or to purchase tickets to the JCSO concerts, visit or call 423-926-8742. Tickets are also available at the door.

All concerts will be held at Milligan College, Seeger Chapel.

Upcoming concert include:

• December 14, 2019, at 7:30 p.m.; December 15 at 2 p.m: Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker with special guest the East Tennessee Ballet Academy.

• February 8, 2020 at 7:30 p.m.; JCSO 50th Birthday Bash with the ETSU Pride Band as special guest and special appearance by the Tri-Cities Jazz Orchestra, ETSU Opera Theatre, Appalachian Express Men’s Choir.

• March 21, 2020 at  7:30 p.m.; Scottish Inspirations with special guest, Melissa White, violinist.

• April 18, 2020 at 7:30 p.m.; #BTHVN 2020: Beethoven at 250 with Milligan College Orchestra as special guest.