For six decades, the Meridian Symphony Orchestra has been a focal point of arts and culture here in East Mississippi. Throughout its distiguished history, the MSO has maintained a tradition of producing great classical music concerts featuring the works of the master composers of the past and present as well as wonderful family programs like the annual Peppermint Pops - a favorite for hundreds of concertgoers.
The leadership of Maestro Peter Rubardt as Music Director of the MSO is a further reflection of our commitment to provide Meridian and the surrounding communities performances of beautiful music. Maestro Rubardt is now in his 23rd season as music director of the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, where his tenure has been distinguished with artistic excellence on the stage and passionate support from the audience and the community. He initiated pops concerts, family concerts, and a series of chamber orchestra concerts in area churches, broadening the base of support and increasing the orchestra’s recognition throughout the community.
The administrative arm of the MSO, the Meridian Symphony Association, endeavors to expand its outreach into the community and to grow educational programs such as the highly successful Strings Program, Link Up (our annual partnership with Carnegie Hall), Symphony Fun Fest, and many other educational programs throughout the calendar year. These programs and other administrative operating expenses are generously supported by grants from our supportive community of patrons, endowments, grants and foundations.
The vibrant, artistic presence of the Meridian Symphony Orchestra is felt throughout the East Mississippi region and, as always, the Meridian Symphony Association will continue to pay tribute to its legacy as well plan its future with the sole purpose being to enhance the quality of life for everyone! The early work and vision of its founders inspire the efforts of the Meridian Symphony’s current supporters and volunteers who make every concert season possible.
The Meridian Symphony Orchestra was formed in 1961 when Livingston State University, the Adult Education Division of Meridian Junior College, and the String Program of the Meridian Public Schools collaborated to create the Meridian Symphony Orchestra.
The MSO’s first concert took place on April 11, 1962 with an orchestra of 45 musicians. Over 1200 patrons were in attendance at the MJC auditorium!
Beginning a longstanding tradition of educational engagement, the MSO presented its first children’s free concert for “Lively Arts Festival” in 1972.
MSO’s first “Pops” concert took place at the Frank Cochran Center in 1981.
In 1985, the MSO Chamber Singers organized.
In the mid-1990s, MSO’s Strings Program expands into Lauderdale County schools.
The MSO was recognized in 1996 by the American Symphony Orchestra League with an ASCAP award for adventuresome programming.
The MSO was named the Distinguished Community Arts Agency for the state of Mississippi by the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Educators.The MSO Community Outreach Event involved 1,200 4th grade students in February 2007.
In 2010, the MSO received a $100,000 endowment from the Phil Hardin Foundation, moving to the Phil Hardin House.
The MSO takes on Main Street Meridian in 2020, moving our administrative offices downtown.