The Reno Philharmonic Association is the largest performing arts organization in the region, with over 60 professional musicians under the leadership of Music Director Laura Jackson. They perform in Reno, Carson Valley, and the Lake Tahoe region in various outdoor and indoor venues. Reaching over 70,000 people each year, the orchestra presents more than 25 concert performances throughout the year, some free for the community. The popular Classix Series is presented from September to April.
In Laura Jackson’s first four seasons, the community has embraced her as one of their own. Her successes include the Composer-in-Residence program that has so far featured Sean Shepherd and Michael Gandolfi. Ms. Jackson was named music director after the 2008-2009 audition season. She comes to Reno after completing three years as Assistant Conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under Robert Spano, while maintaining an active guest-conducting career with ensembles throughout the world. She studied conducting at the University of Michigan with Ken Kiesler and attended the Tanglewood Music Center in 2003 as the Seiji Ozawa Conducting Fellow.
The Reno Philharmonic Association also boasts an award-winning and diverse education department, which includes three youth orchestras, a series of 10 Young People’s Concerts (YPCs) performed throughout the school year, RPA Kids, an after-school violin instruction program, the Discover Music program, which brings music ensembles into schools, and a free Family Concert. The education programs reach over 35,000 school-aged children per year and work in tandem with the Washoe County School District to cover many areas of music and arts education.
Reno native Sean Shepherd was selected as the first-ever Reno Philharmonic Composer-in-Residence, funded by The Kennedy Foundation. His premiere of Silvery Rills was performed in March 2011. As part of that concert set, Mr. Shepherd visited local schools and worked with students on music and composition. In October 2011, the premiere of Mr. Shepherd’s second commissioned works, Desert Gardens, was presented in the season-opener of the 43rd season of the Reno Philharmonic’s Classix Series. The Composer-in-Residence program continued in the 2012-2013 season as Michael Gandolfi’s Chesapeake: Summer of 1814 premiered during Classix Five. The new, multimedia work celebrates the bicentennial of The Star-Spangled Banner and was performed again during the 2013-14 Family Concert and YPCs.
In 2009, the RPA was named Promotional Group of the Year, by the Northern Nevada Advertising Association for its ground-breaking campaign for the 2008-2009 conductor search- its detailed process, the talented and diverse candidates, the use of technology to engage the community in the process, and the increases in ticket sales. In 2009, the orchestra was recognized for artistic merit and contributions to the arts industry with a Governor’s Arts Award for Leadership in the Arts. The orchestra has been presented with the “Best of Reno Award” by Reno Magazine in 2006 and the “Best Performing Arts Group” in Reno nine times from 1991-2001 by Reno Gazette-Journal readers. The RPA has been honored to receive several Silver Star awards for education programs and concerts from Truckee Meadows Tomorrow for enhancing the quality of life in northern Nevada. In 2003, the Reno Philharmonic Youth Orchestras received a “Best of Reno Award” from the Reno News and Review.