It has come a long way since its inception in the basement of the First Methodist Church on July 28, 1959. Though not professional musicians, the first group of lawyers, accountants, teachers, florists, housewives and geologists was determined to give Roswell a professional-sounding symphony orchestra. It was quite an accomplishment in 1959 for a city of less than 40,000.
John Farrer became the director in 1972 following William Kirschke, Thomas Lewis and Glenn Cunningham, the original director. Mr. Farrer lives in Bakersfield, California, where he conducts its Symphony Orchestra in addition to the Roswell Symphony. He is a frequent guest with orchestras in England and is currently serving as Principal Guest Conductor of the English Sinfonia in London. He recorded English String Music with the Sinfonia. In addition to those honors, he has received the Governor’s Award for Excellence and Achievement, New Mexico’s highest arts honor. His creative programming has brought inquiries from professional musicians all over the region who aspire to be a part of this outstanding orchestra.
A season usually consists of five subscription concerts and a free Labor Day Concert in the Park plus three Chamber Music concerts. In addition local merchants underwrite the Send-a-Senior to a Concert. The subscription concerts are held in Pearson Auditorium on the campus of New Mexico Military Institute. The Chamber Music Series is held at the Roswell Museum and Art Center.
It is reported that a friend of Leonard Bernstein who was traveling through New Mexico with the conductor/composer saw our beautiful vistas and said "Those hills are pure Beethoven. They have a quality of majesty and craggy exaltation that suggest Beethoven to me." The RSO responded to that observation by presenting a Beethoven Symphony.
Members of the Symphony, the many volunteers, the business community and staff reflect the statement of Winston Churchill, "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."