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World-class Classical Music in Your Neighborhood

Johnstown Symphony Orchestra Featured Image

This could be the year you discover (or remember) how good our symphony is

Quick–when you think of Johnstown, what comes to mind?

(thinking pause…)

If floods, steel mills, pierogis, or polkas came to mind, give yourself a point. You’ve been paying attention in history class or you have a grandma (or “baba”) who keeps you connected to the city’s rich cultural heritage. But you get extra credit if you said Johnstown Symphony Orchestra. That’s right–Johnstown is home to an amazingly talented orchestra that has been entertaining locals for more than 90 years.

Grammy Winner James Blachly Johnstown Symphony Orchestra
See that guy in the cool coat? That guy in the cool coat won a Grammy. He’s also the Music Director for the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra.

“But classical music isn’t my thing”

We hear ya. And that’s okay. But you might be surprised at how much music you recognize and enjoy. (True confession–most of the classical music I know is from Bugs Bunny cartoons and TV commercials.)

While the majority of JSO’s offerings are considered “classical,” the upcoming season also features music made famous by Frank Sinatra, Disney movies (check out the upcoming Family Concert—audience members in costume are encouraged!), and even Led Zeppelin. Along with these pops and non-traditional orchestra fare, you’ll also be treated to Aaron Copeland’s well known Appalachian Spring, which depicts life in a Pennsylvania Town; a program featuring patriotic pieces near Veterans Day; Handel’s Messiah in December; and romantic music by Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev that was inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet; and much more!

If you’re unsure about heading to a concert hall for a performance, did you know:

  1. You don’t have to dress up if you don’t want to. But if you like getting fancy in a suit or sparkly dress, by all means, please do! You’ll see a range of attire.
  2. Not all JSO concerts are at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center. The JSO has offered musical programs that were meaningful to this region in industrial spaces such as steel mills. This year they’ll perform in beautifully re-purposed churches, a wonderful active church, and even the local airport!
Johnstown Symphony Orchestra Rustbelt Art
Johnstown Symphony Orchestra isn’t afraid to take their show on the road. This performance was held in an old steel-mill manufacturing facility. Johnstown Symphony Orchestra is good at shaking the rust off the Rustbelt.

Need another reason to consider the JSO? The ensemble is really, really good. In 2020, legendary classical radio host Jim Cunningham described the JSO this way: “…great repertoire at the highest level of playing and explained eloquently…magic. You are doing something truly beautiful for this part of the world.” That assessment was made even before our hugely talented and innovative music director, James Blachly, won a 2021 Grammy® Award for conducting his Experiential Orchestra’s world-premiere recording of Dame Ethel Smyth’s The Prison, a piece debuted live right here with the JSO.

Christmas with the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra
Christmas with the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra is immaculate.

Okay, so you’re thinking about going

Whew. We’re almost there. One local resident had gone to a few concerts through the years, but decided a several years ago to join the family as a season ticket holder. “There’s just something magical about all those amazingly talented musicians creating sound together that simply isn’t possible individually,” said Dianne Frye DeLisa, JSO Advisory Board Member and relatively recent season ticket holder. “I played clarinet in school and I sing a bit in the community; I’m not what you’d call an expert on classical music. But hearing it played live is really something special. And that it’s happening right here in Johnstown…well, it means a lot to me.”

Mark Addleman has a unique perspective on the JSO—he started his journey with the organization as a member of the Johnstown Symphony Youth Orchestra and has played with the JSO itself. He later joined the JSO Board of Advisors and then the Boards of Trustees, where he just began his reign as president of the board. To those not sure if the symphony is for them, he says, “Whether you listen to rap, country, blues, or folk, your favorite artists are pulling beats or sampling melodies from the great ‘classical’ masters like Shostakovich, Bach, and Brahms. Not only do we want to introduce people to those beautiful works, we also want to show that all musicians today are standing on the shoulders of the western ‘classical giants.’”

Mark Addleman Chairman Johnstown Symphony Orchestra
See that guy holding the French Horn? He also plays it. He’s Mark Addleman, Chairman of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra.

You’ll give JSO a try?

Cool! Here are some pro tips to help you get the most enjoyment out of your JSO experience:

  • Attend one of Maestro James Blachly’s pre- or post-concert talks. He’ll provide insight into the program and the musicians. Both newbies and classical music buffs alike attend these sessions, boosting their knowledge and enjoyment of the performances.
  • Before the concert, Google the composer and music being performed. Even listen to a recording of the piece on YouTube. You know how the more you hear a song on the radio, the more you like it? That happens with classical music, too. In fact, you’ll probably hear new things each time you listen.

How to get tickets

Season ticket packages are now on sale! To avoid processing/handling fees, go to johnstownsymphony.org to purchase season tickets online through August 20. Then starting on September 8, you’ll be able to buy tickets to individual concerts.

And an added bonus this year, the JSO is doing all ticketing in-house now. If you have questions, need ticket reprints or to make changes, etc., you can do that all through the JSO.

See you at the Symphony!