The Johannesburg Symphony Orchestra is one of the oldest orchestras in South Africa, with its first concert held in the Wanderers Hall in Johannebsurg on the 30 September 1934 under the baton of Viennese born conductor, Joseph Trauneck. The orchestra steadily grew in size and popularity, and the first concert in the Johannesburg City Hall was attended by the Governor General and Lady Duncan.
Over the years, the JSO has become most well known for their annual Concerto Festivals. The first Concerto Festival was held on 16 June 1948 in the Great Hall at the University of the Witwatersrand. These Concerto Festivals are an ongoing initiative which serves as a platform for young and developing musical talent in South Africa to play a concerto with an orchestra. The JSO has been instrumental in the development of over 500 South African musicians, many of whom have achieved international standing including Betty Pack, Jack de Wet, Vincent Fritelli, Gerrit Bon, Marian Lewin, Anton Nel and Deon van der Walt.
The orchestra continues its proud history from the first concerts with one shilling tickets and coat rooms to modern times where the tradition of beautiful music remains unchanged and our young soloists still dress as if invited to tea with the Queen. Each concert is a breathtaking ensemble of the most surprising talent from soloists as young as 6 years old and international music competition winners who are certain to have their names remembered in history as well.
The resident conductors for the Concerto Festivals over the years: Joseph Trauneck (1948-55), Gilberto Bonnegio (1956-57), Derrick Lewis(1957-60), Jeremy Schulman (1961-68), Walther Mony (1969-70),Vincent Fritelli (1976-77), Edgar Cree (1978), Naudé Burger (1980-81), Bennie Bierman (1981), Henri Arends (1981-83), Ralph Kastner (1984-1987), Pienaar Fourie (1978-1980 and 1988-2014), Eric Rycroft (2014-present). Kutlwano Masote was also invited to be a guest conduct for our celebratory 80th Birthday concert that was held in 2014.
In addition to the concerto festivals, the JSO has been involved in a number of projects over the years aimed at developing young musicians and introducing people to the wonderful world of music. Some of these initiatives include the support and development of conductors, instrument makers and young musicians.
The JSO continues to be involved in a wide variety of initiatives that aim to introduce orchestral music to a wide variety of audiences including more recently, appearances at the Monte Casino Food and Wine Festivals and the Parys and Hartebeespoort bike rallys.