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About the Carroll Symphony Orchestra

The Carroll Symphony Orchestra was established in 2002 through a grant, secured by State House Representative Tracy Stallings, from the State of Georgia General Appropriations budget.  The Carroll County Board of Commissioners officially formed the Carroll Symphony Orchestra under the Carroll Tomorrow umbrella and gave Terry Lowry the task of forming the Board of Directors, selecting players and organizing the first performance, which took place on October 19, 2002, at the newly constructed Carrollton Cultural Arts Center. In the spring of 2003 the CSO Foundation Board of Directors convened and began its fundraising and marketing efforts.  In due time the CSO adopted by-laws, elected officers and successfully completed the process of becoming an independent non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Since that time the CSO has performed regular masterwork series and family pops concerts and has developed an extensive Music Education Outreach program, which reaches thousands of students in the West Georgia area each school year.  
Since 2002, the CSO Foundation has presented over 600 performances.  The Carroll Symphony Orchestra season includes the Fourth of July Sounds of Liberty Concert with fireworks on the grounds of the Carrollton City School System, Discover Music Concerts for students, and CSO Masterworks series. It also includes performances by the Carrollton Wind Ensemble at veteran’s events, schools, churches and nursing homes, and performances by the CSO sponsored chamber ensemble Atlanta by Six and by the Carrollton Jazz Orchestra. The Symphony also has performed with Griffin Choral Arts, Collegium Vocale of Decatur,the Choirs of First Baptist Church, Carrollton Presbyterian Church, Carrollton First United Methodist Church,  the University of West Georgia Choral Program, the UWG Opera Workshop, St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, and the Thomas A. Dorsey Festival Choir.
The CSO Symphony Guild, comprised of over one hundred individual donor families and dozens of corporate sponsors. The CSO has also received grants from Alice H. Richards Fund, The Community Foundation of West Georgia, The Community Foundation of Atlanta, Carroll EMC, The Cole Family Foundation, Wells Fargo Foundation, the Warren and Ava Sewell Foundation, and the Georgia Power Foundation. The CSO has also been the recipient of several generous anonymous donations.


The CSO has a three-part mission statement:

1    To enrich the lives of children through great music, education outreach programs, instrument instruction and the CSO Young Composer Competition

2.     To enhance the quality of life for all residents of West Georgia by serving as a cultural asses as well as an economic asset

3.    To promote the creation and performance of new music

In fulfillment of this mission, the Carroll Symphony Orchestra performs concerts and operates educational outreach programs throughout the year.



The Carroll Symphony Orchestra Foundation sponsors three professional performing ensembles (the Carroll Symphony Orchestra, the Carrollton Jazz Orchestra and Atlanta by Six) and a two community ensembles open to all  (the Carrollton Wind Ensemble and the Carroll Symphony Youth Orchestra). The CSO also fulfills its mission through the CSO Music Academy, music education outreach programs in 52 schools, and the state-wide CSO Young Composer Competition.


The Carroll Symphony Orchestra

The Carrollton Jazz Orchestra

The Carrollton Wind Ensemble

Christmas with the CSO and Carrollton Elementary School Pre-K, 2019

Atlanta by Six

CSO Music Academy

Here's how it all began....
as told by Conductor, Terry Lowry


During the 2002 legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly, Representative Tracy Stallings secured an appropriation of $25,000 to be used to create a professional symphony orchestra in Carroll County. The money was received by the Carroll County Board of Commissioners, who arranged for the Carroll Symphony Orchestra to become an affiliate of Carroll Tomorrow. I was asked to form a Board of Directors, write the mission statement, hire the musicians and present the first performance, which took place on October 19, 2002, in the newly built Carrollton Cultural Arts Center.

A capacity crowd heard the first notes played by the CSO, the familiar opening F, C, F, C, F, C, F, A, C of Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. Also on this first program was Pachebel's Canon in D, Vivaldi's Concerto for Two Trumpets and Copland's "An Outdoor Overture". We closed with Copland's "A Lincoln Portrait", with narration by then Carrollton City Schools Superintendent Tom Wilson.

Two months later, the CSO performed Handel's Messiah with the Sanctuary Choir of First Baptist Church. This collaboration delighted audiences for eight years and eleven performances.

The mission statement that has guided the activities of the Carroll Symphony Orchestra from the start is focused on improving the quality of life for residents of West Georgia, and especially our children. The mission of the CSO is:

1. To enrich the lives of children through great music, educational outreach programs, private instruction and the CSO Young Composer Competition.

2. To provide Carroll County with a professional orchestra, thereby increasing the area's attractiveness to current and future businesses and residents.

3. To promote the creation and performance of new music.

In fulfillment of this mission, we have had a presence in our local schools for twelve years. I am a frequent guest in music classes across Carroll and Haralson Counties and we have initiated, and in some cases, maintained complete music programs in schools, such as the Pre-K music program at Carrollton Elementary School. It has been my great joy to spend many hours each week working to enhance the experience of children in their school's music program.

It is the work that we do to teach children that is the primary focus of the Carroll Symphony Orchestra. As much as I love to present concerts, the real work of the CSO happens each day as we help children find the song that is within them. This work goes by largely unnoticed by the public. I suppose it is not as glamorous as presenting an Independence Day concert for 8,000 people, or playing to sold out audiences at the Townsend Center. But to help a child learn to use music to make sense of his or her world is our true calling. I firmly believe that just as every child should learn to read and to write, every child should learn to listen and to sing.


In 2003, I invited several members of our community to form the CSO Board of Directors. The members of this first BOD were Tracy Stallings, Dana Reeve, Tom Wilson, Elizabeth McCollum, Ann Newman, Steve Gradick, MIchael Stone, Mary Parkman, Steve Adams, Huck Smith and Patti Pitts, who was elected Chairman. Patti's tenure as BOD Chair lasted over eight years. Her leadership, along with the commitment of these board members were critical to the success of the CSO.

The CSO performed again on June 3, 2003, under the direction of guest conductor Kevin Hibbard. This performance also marked the first time the CSO premiered a new work, my Piano Concerto no. 2. Also on this program was a violin concerto by Albinoni with CSO Concertmaster Edward Eanes as soloist, and Beethoven's Choral Fantasy. The choir was comprised of members of the community and music students from UWG. We have always considered it crucial to be relevant to our community, whether through educational programs for children, or by offering opportunities for performance for local musicians. Many of the musicians in the CSO either live in Carroll County, teach at UWG, or have some other connection to our community. Elisa Lyle, David Trumble, Bobbe Toub, Ellie Jenkins, Lisa Sayre, Paul Lowry, Peter Mueller, Tony Sawyer, Sam Lee, Gerald Farmer, Mark Zickefoose, and Keelan Lovvorn are just a sampling of CSO musicians who either live in West Georgia or who have taught at UWG.

In December, the CSO finished its year with two more performances of Handel's Messiah. As we prepared to enter 2004, not even I could have anticipated the amazing events that were in store for the Carroll Symphony Orchestra.


As we began the 2004 season not even I could have anticipated what was in store for the Carroll Symphony Orchestra. To help with grant writing and planning, Elizabeth Rogers joined an already dynamic Board of Directors.

The year began and ended with wonderful works for choir and orchestra. We began our season with a performance of Faure's Requiem with the Sanctuary Choir of First Baptist Church. At this concert we also performed Ravel's Pavane une infante defunte, and my Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Cello. In December we closed our season with performances of Handel's Messiah at both FBC and at the Townsend Center with UWG's Concert Choir and the Atlanta based Collegium Vocale, under the direction of Kevin Hibbard.

But even more exciting than this, in 2004 the CSO began its first education outreach initiative, the CSO Teacher Resource Program. Through this program, I met with local music teachers to aid in preparation of curriculum, lesson plans and teaching materials. If the teachers needed recordings or biographical information about composers, we provided to them at no charge. If the teachers wanted to discuss innovative curriculum ideas, such as how to teach improvisation, we helped them design the unit. Of course, we never pushed our programs on anyone. Rather, we offered this service to all music teachers in Carroll County (and later in Haralson County) general music, chorus and band teachers, and waited on them to invite us to have a conversation. I was invited to give musical presentations in schools throughout the county, visiting each elementary school at least once, and in some cases returning every 9 weeks. Some of these presentations were given in support of units being taught, others were given in between units, allowing the teacher a day to regroup before beginning the next unit. Our aim was to provide a valuable supplement to the great work being done by our local music educators.

in addition to the CSO Teacher Resource Program, we held our first annual Carroll Symphony Orchestra Young Composer Competition. In May, I submitted a short musical theme to every elementary, junior high and high school music, band and chorus teacher in Carroll County, as well as to most area piano teachers. I asked the teachers to encourage their students to write a short piano composition based on the theme, and to submit their work. The winners were given orchestration lessons and their works were performed by the CSO on November 4, 2004. Just imagine being an eight year-old, standing on stage during rehearsal and hearing a professional orchestra play through your composition - and afterward having 60 professional musicians applaud your work!

In 2004 we also began our Discover Music Program, through wich the CSO presented concerts at Carrollton High School for nearly two thousand students from all over Carroll County. Before the concerts, I visited each school that would be attending and presented programs about the music so the students would be engaged listeners. This paid off, as was evidenced by the hundreds of hand made cards and letters I received from the children telling me about their excitement at anticipating and then hearing their favorite parts. I have kept every one of these cards.

At one of these concerts, I saw one of our Young Composer Competition winners, a seventh grade girl. I quickly asked Concertmaster Edward Eanes to notify the orchestra that we would add her composition to the program that morning. After we performed her piece, the audience of 700 junior high students applauded and I turned and asked her to stand at her seat and be recognized. 700 of her peers jumped to their feet! I've never been a 13 year-old girl, but I have to believe that this did wonders for her self esteem!

The November 4 concert also included Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf and my Piano Concerto no. 3. We repeated the concert on November 11 (beginning this Veteran's Day concert with the National Anthem), at Bowdon's Copeland Hall.

These outreach programs continue today. We have since performed for thousands of students and have worked tirelessly to assist our local music educators as they bring music into the lives of our children. As of today, through the CSO Young Composer Competition, we have premiered over 130 compositions by Carroll and Haralson County students. 2020 marks the 17th edition of the contest.


In June of 2005, the CSO was the resident orchestra of the Thomas A. Dorsey Festival in Villa Rica. The festival was sponsored by the Thomas A. Dorsey Birthplace Museum to honor the work of the gospel and blues musician. The CSO performed an outdoor concert of works by Dorsey with the Thomas A. Dorsey Choir and with several guest soloists.

On July 4, an estimated 3,000 people attended the first Carroll Symphony Orchestra Sounds of Liberty concert at Grisham Stadium. This outdoor concert featured works by American Composers, a salute to the Armed Forces, and concluded with a brilliant fireworks display sponsored by the City of Carrollton. The concert was broadcasted live on B92.1 and KISS102,7. This Independence Day Celebration has continued for 16 years and has grown into one of the largest celebrations in the state, boasting an audience of nearly 12,000 in 2019.

The CSO also continued its commitment to the mission of enriching the lives of children through great music. Invitations continued to come in for me to present classroom and school-wide performances. In 2005 I presented programs to over 5,000 students. This same year, we received a grant from the Community Foundation of West Georgia to purchase percussion instruments. The CSO made the instruments available to the band program at Carrollton Junior High School so that the students could have access to the very best instruments possible during those times when the CSO was not using them. Since 2005, our instruments have been used by Carrollton Junior High School, Carrollton High School, Villa Rica Middle School and Oak Mountain Academy.

The winning compositions from the 2005 Carroll Symphony Young Composer Competition were performed on October 10, at two Discover Music performances at Carrollton High School and one at the Carrollton Cultural Arts Center. Included on this program was Pictures at an Exhibition, by Modeste Mussorgsky. This piece provided the CSO with the opportunity to offer another educational outreach program, this time offered to area art students.

Prior to the concert, art teachers in local schools were invited to have their students participate in an art project that was connected to music, which the students enjoyed during the daytime Discover Music Concerts. Information and educational materials about the music, as well as a recording of the music, were provided to the teachers. These materials included information about the composer, and the origin of the composition. Students also had the opportunity to discuss each of the different movements of the composition. Mussorgsky was inspired to write Pictures at an Exhibition after the death of his friend, Victor Hartmann. Hartmann was a painter and architect. A year after his death and after attending an exhibition of Hartmann's work, Mussorgsky was set about to write this piece as a musical tribute to the life and work of this great artist. As students listened to Mussorgsky's music, they created their own versions of the paintings celebrated in Pictures at an Exhibition. These beautiful and orginal works of art were incorporated into a power-point presentation that played on a screen above the stage during the orchestra's performance. The individual student's name, grade, school, and teacher's name were listed on each picture as it was displayed. These student creations were also displayed in the lobby during the evening performance at the Carrollton Cultural Arts Center.

In 2005 we finished the process of becoming an independent non-profit entity with our own 501(c)3 number, which meant we were able to take over our own bookkeeping and payroll and receive contributions without a parent organization. I am very grateful to Daniel Jackson and Carroll Tomorrow for helping us get started. Without them, we simply would not have gotten off the ground.


In April of 2006 the CSO performed with the University of West Georgia Concert Choir and the winners of the UWG Concerto/Aria Competition, sponsored by the UWG Music Department. The CSO has always had a wonderful relationship with UWG and has enjoyed many successful performances with their Music Department.

The July 4 Sounds of Liberty continued to grow as more and more West Georgians made this event their Independence Day tradition. It was becoming obvious that Grisham Stadium would not hold this event for much longer....but more on that later...

We again presented Discover Music concerts for over 2000 students. These programs allowed school children with - for many of them - their first experience hearing a symphony orchestra perform live. The "hit" of this program was The Sorcerer's Apprentice, by Paul Dukas. Mickey Mouse may have made this piece famous, but there was no shortage of magic for our audiences as we played this wonderful piece.

The Young Composer Competition continued to inspire students to "find the song within them" and our audiences were delighted at these works. As some of the composers continued to enter year after year, we were able to listen to the development of their talents, which were truly remarkable.

More performances of Handel's Messiah, and many more presentations for elementary school children in classrooms rounded out another successful year for the CSO.


2007 was another exciting year of growth for the CSO. We began the year by presenting a Holy Week performance of Haydn's "Seven Last Words of Our Savior From the Cross", one of my favorite pieces, with the Sanctuary Choir of First Baptist Church. We also performed again with the UWG Concert Choir and Collegium Vocale of Atlanta at the Townsend Center for the Performing Arts. As our audiences continued to grow, we found ourselves looking for a new venue for all of our concerts and the Townsend Center has proven to be a wonderful home for us. Robert Jennings and David Manuel have gone above and beyond the call of duty to make us feel welcome and our concerts successful.

On July 4 we presented the Sounds of Liberty at Grisham Stadium. The crowd in 2007 far exceeded any that we had drawn in the past. The entire home side was completely full and there was even a large number of spectators in the visitor's side. This was unfortunate for them since not only were they positioned behind the orchestra, the fireworks display took place behind them. The stadium renovation the following year would force us to move to the front lawn of Carrollton Elementary School in 2008, which proved to be an even better location and allowed our audience to grow to nearly 10,000.

We continued our education outreach programs in the schools and presented more Discover Music Concerts in Carrollton High School. We also held another edition of the Carroll Symphony Orchestra Young Composer Competition. The winning compositions were presented at one of my all-time favorite CSO concerts. We called it "American Masters" and featured a program composed entirely of American composers. On the program were Aaron Copland, John Corigliano, Samuel Barber, Ron Nelson, and Peter Mennin. This program of 20th and 21st Century music was an enormous success.

We closed the season with our traditional performance of Handel's Messiah. A wonderful ending to a wonderful year for the CSO!

More coming soon.....


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