Symphony History

In 1981, Dr. Samuel Jones, Director of Rice University’s newly formed Shepherd School of Music, contacted Jeralyn Friedli, a former player living in Lake Jackson . Dr. Jones said he had a promising conducting student named Jim Hagberg who wished to become the conductor of a community orchestra after graduation.

In the Spring of 1982, Clayton Gilpin, President of the Brazosport Music Theater, (which later merged with the Little Theater of Brazosport to become Brazosport Center Stages), called Jeralyn to determine the possibility of starting an orchestra under the sponsorship of the Music Theater. Jim Hagberg was invited to attend a meeting with Gilpin, Friedli and Margaret Davis, a local musician with two children who played the violin. Hagberg was graduating from Rice University with a Masters in conducting in May, 1982

Since Hagberg was not available until the Summer of 1982, Davis gathered a small group of students and community people to form a string ensemble under the direction of Bill Atkerson, a former High School orchestra director. An August concert was held at the Music Theater and was very well received. In the fall of 1982 that small string group became the nucleus for the Brazosport Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Jim Hagberg. Hagberg was hired by the Brazosport Music Theater to conduct one rehearsal per week and three concerts for the 1982-83 season. A sum of $600 was collected from the community and added to the Music Theater treasury, from which Hagberg was paid $50 per month.

In the summer of 1983 Friedli and Linda Claiborne, another mother of a violinist, worked to organize a Symphony Board of Directors and Symphony League. These groups were to operate and maintain the Brazosport Symphony Orchestra. A charter was received from the State of Texas in 1983 and Federal non-profit status was received in 1984. The Board of Directors started with nine members, but has increased over time to 27 members. The board is organized into working committees that function well and keep the orchestra operating within budget.

Since 1984, the Symphony has continued to grow in its quantity of players, audience and budget. The quality of its performances has improved greatly and three additional concerts have been added: Pops, and a Holiday Concert. The Symphony and its League continue in their relationship to The Center, as affiliate organizations of Brazosport Center Stages. Many exceptional soloists have performed with the Brazosport Symphony Orchestra, both from within the community and outside professionals.

In 2006 the Symphony revitalized its Young Artists Competition for string players. The winner receives a $500 scholarship and the opportunity to play with the orchestra.