2017-2018 marks the 24th season for what we now know as the Parker Symphony Orchestra. However, for the first 17 years of its existence, the orchestra was known as the South Suburban Community Orchestra. Founded by Denver resident Alan Long in 1994, the SSCO started as a small orchestra which performed in various churches around Denver and Centennial. Joe Larkin, a graduate of DU, led the orchestra as its Music Director from its inception in 1994 until 2006. René Knetsch has been the Music Director of the orchestra since the Fall of 2006.
The 2010-2011 season was a turning point for the orchestra. SSCO was performing at Grace Presbyterian Church in Centennial that year. The building was sold, which left the orchestra without a venue for performances. As luck would have it, the magnificent PACE center was being built in Parker at that time. René contacted the Executive Director of the PACE, pointing out that we had an orchestra without a performance venue, and PACE was a performance venue without an orchestra. Two of the staff members from PACE attended one of the last concerts at Grace. Liking what they heard, they graciously invited the orchestra to perform on the PACE stage, later naming the orchestra as one of the PACE’s Artistic Partners. The orchestra changed its name to the Parker Symphony Orchestra before the first concert at PACE in November 2011.
Highlights from the past 6 seasons at PACE include: collaborations with the Legend High School choir, annual holiday concerts with the Parker Chorale, children’s concerts with the Young Voices of Colorado children’s choir, a Veteran’s Day concert featuring the Mormon Chorale, several professional guest soloists, a high energy concert of Latin music featuring the amazing tango group “Extasis”, and, of course, performances of many of the greatest classical music compositions ever composed.
Our current season opens with the October 27 concert titled “Sounds of the Deep”. A collection of classical music masterpieces that have a “Halloween-esque” feel to them, including the overture to “Die Fledermaus” (the bat), and the very famous “Orpheus in the Underworld” (think – “Can-Can”). December 1, 2, and 3 will be our traditional “Classic Parker Holiday” with the Parker Chorale, which always includes may well-known holiday favorites. February 23, 2018 we will present a concert we are calling “Gone Too Soon”, which will be music composed by composers who passed away at a much too early age including composers like Mozart, Gershwin, and Bizet. The final concert for the season is May 11 and will feature Heidi Leathwood, piano professor at DU’s Lamont School of Music, performing the gorgeous “Piano Concerto in A minor” by Edvard Grieg.