The ACSO strives to make music for others and to enrich their lives through education and community. Composed of local musicians of all ages and backgrounds, the ACSO provides concerts free of charge. Performing multiple concerts a year at different venues not only allows the ACSO to provide access to free music to the metro Atlanta community but it also connects the patrons of the community via the common language of music. The ACSO also provides talented young artists the rare opportunity to perform with a symphony orchestra through its annual Ruth Kern Young Artists’ Concerto Competition. The future of the ACSO is one of continued outreach and accessibility.
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The Atlanta Community Symphony Orchestra (ACSO) was conceived in the summer of 1957 under the auspices of the Atlanta Music Club (AMC). At that time, there were very limited orchestral opportunities for serious instrumentalists in Atlanta. Mrs. Charles Chalmers, AMC President (1956-1960), worked with AMC members Mrs. Ruth Dabney Allen and Ms. Ruth Kern, a local music educator and violist, to establish a community orchestra to further the progress of talented amateur musicians in the Atlanta area.
Ms. Kern emphasized that it was the responsibility of the teachers of the city to see that serious music students and adult musicians had an opportunity to rehearse and perform symphonic music.
In the fall of 1957, at the invitation of the AMC, an ensemble of seventeen players convened at the home of Mrs. Andrew Fairlie to explore the possibilities for a new community-based orchestra to perform symphonic literature. The Atlanta Community Orchestra (now the ACSO) was officially founded in 1958. The ACSO’s first free public concert was performed on May 12, 1958, under the baton of Maestro Harry Kruger.
More than half a century later, the ACSO continues its dual missions of providing symphonic orchestral training and performance opportunities for serious Atlanta-area musicians and quality, free symphonic performances for audiences around metro-Atlanta and the State of Georgia. For more than forty years, the ACSO has held an annual Young Artists’ Concerto Competition (YACC), giving dedicated music students the opportunity to perform solo works with the orchestra. The Ruth Kern YACC is named in honor of Ms. Kern, founding ACSO member, for her dedication to both music education and the orchestra.
Today ACSO provides the citizens of metro Atlanta and other Georgia cities with 5 symphonic concerts a year at no admission charge.