The Atlanta Community Symphony Conductor Emeritus Maestro Juan R. Ramírez’ Farewell Season

Juan R. Ramírez, whose tireless leadership and artistic vision helped usher the Atlanta Community Symphony Orchestra into the 21st century, is retiring after 19 seasons as Artistic Director & Conductor.

Under his baton, the ACSO hosted dozens of concerts, including the Celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Atlanta Music Club in 2015 and the ACSO’s 50thanniversary Gala Concert in 2008. Mr. Ramírez has made a special commitment to the annual Ruth Kern Young Artist’s Concerto Competition, supporting and nurturing young musicians in the Atlanta community and beyond. “What drives me is the love of music, for the art of music,” says Mr. Ramirez. During his nearly two decades with the orchestra, he has showcased music by Latino and Jewish artists and provided a platform for newly composed works, including his own.

Mr. Ramírez has spent much of his career enriching the Atlanta music scene. In addition to the Artistic Director & Conductor of the ACSO, he is a celebrated violinist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, a composer, and Founder and Artistic Director of the Atlanta Virtuosi Foundation, Inc. Under the auspices of this Foundation, he founded the Buckhead Youth Orchestra, Casa de la Cultura-Atlanta and Music for Success! – an educational program which provides string training by professional musicians to elementary and middle school children of many backgrounds.

Of his work with the ACSO and Buckhead Youth Orchestra, Mr. Ramirez says, “Every member of both orchestras likes to enjoy music and whatever level they have, they want to learn and appreciate good music.” He has led the ACSO in bringing that enjoyment of music to the Atlanta community.

Because of his tireless activism and deep commitment to the community, Mr. Ramírez has won numerous awards and honors, including Lexus Leader of the Arts by WABE Public Radio of Atlanta and WPBA Television for “his outstanding contributions, his pursuit of excellence in music and for his initiating and serving several community music organizations in the arts community”, the Loridans Arts Award, the Governor’s Award in the Humanities, and recently the 2018 Ford Musician Award for Excellence in Community Service. “Music is a gift that I feel everybody should be involved in,” says Mr. Ramirez.

Members of the orchestra and the Governing Board will miss Mr. Ramírez for his leadership, generosity, and outstanding commitment to the Atlanta Community Symphony Orchestra. While he is retiring from the ACSO, he will continue to volunteer with young people in underserved communities, compose, and is planning a cookbook highlighting his other passion – chili peppers and delicious salsas. We wish him a relaxing retirement filled with beautiful music.

A Letter From Juan

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Dear ACSO friends,

First of all I want to thank you for your wonderful playing last Friday. It was an intense week producing this concert. I enjoyed the concert reception and seeing many old friends, you and your guests. It has been a great opportunity for me to be with you all these years.  We have performed a wide range of musical styles in many venues reaching out to new appreciative audiences. Even though there are many community and civic orchestras in metro Atlanta, ACSO has remained musically unique. This past week, family from Mexico City came to hear my last concert as soloist and conductor, including my niece, Annita and sister Connie, now 91 years old, plus family from Virginia and Atlanta. It was a unique opportunity for my two granddaughters, Lena and Caeley, to know my sister Connie. We took lots of photos for the next generation.

I also want to thank you for giving me the scrapbook “A Book of Beautiful Memories” and the Beethoven Violin Concerto precious facsimile! I performed this concerto in Boston and it is near my heart.  Music has been my life since I was born in a home full of music, musicians, instruments and many gatherings with my parent’s friends and family. I started my first lessons on violin at the age of 4 years old. My sister Connie reminded me that she used to take me to my violin lessons when I was 6 years old. I did not remember this but do remember going to my violin lessons with great anticipation and eagerness to learn more from my first teacher.

The membership of the orchestra has changed since 1999, just as life goes through changes, and good changes! It is my hope that ACSO continues its goals and when you choose your new conductor, continues to present successfully many concerts in our metro Atlanta community.

My mentor, friend and teacher, Henryk Szeryng always told me “…When our master composers gave birth to their beautiful works they were thinking that their music will always survive with great interpreters ……what they wrote with their hands gave us a piece of heaven and we must continue preserving their celestial music.”

We have something very special in common among us that all of you and I love music and understand and enjoy the beauty that music gives us.

For now, I will not say goodbye, but will leave you with these words…”at the beginning, our earth’s creation produced a large explosion full of great frequencies thereby giving us the universal song of eternity. Music is a gift from God and we are his messengers. Music is our soul!

With great appreciation,