50 Years of the Reno Philharmonic

ISBN: 978-1-5323-8168-3
By: Simpson, Judith F.


Since the beginning of the 21st century, symphony orchestras across America have either reduced their seasons or ultimately closed their doors. Against these great odds, the Reno Philharmonic Association celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018. This commemorative work tells the story of the first 50 years of the Reno Philharmonic based on interviews with more than 200 people, including conductors, orchestra and chorus members, management, donors, trustees, and audience members. Author Judith F. Simpson also draws on research from newspaper articles, photos, and old concert programs to tell this fascinating tale. 50 Years Of The Reno Philharmonic chronicles the organization’s history through its four conductors: Gregory Stone, Ron Daniels, Barry Jekowsky and Laura Jackson. Each section of the book brings these intriguing people to life and also paints a robust picture of the Reno Philharmonic at the time of their leadership. Through the book, readers will learn about the Reno Philharmonic's inner workings, as well as its impact on the greater Reno-Tahoe community.


Judith F. Simpson

Judith F. Simpson was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She attended Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio and graduated with a dual degree in French and history. In 1962, she was offered a scholarship to study at the University of Nevada. She planned to “try out the west” for one year and ended up staying. She earned Master’s degrees in both history and counseling and guidance. Her teaching career included stints at Sparks and O’Brien Middle Schools and Sparks High School. She then became the social studies coordinator for the Washoe County School District and went on to create the nationally recognized Partners in Education program. She retired from the district in 1999. Music and theater have been a constant thread in her life since she was three and started piano lessons. She sang and directed choirs, and produced theater including the successful Hadassah Broadway series. She was the personnel manager for the Reno Phil for several years and then the executive director of the Reno Chamber Orchestra for seven years. In 2012, she formed the volunteer group for the Phil. Another thread has been the love of civic education. In 1987, the governor appointed her to Nevada’s Commission for the 200th birthday of the U.S. Constitution. That opened many new doors for her. For 20 years she served as the Nevada coordinator for the acclaimed We the People, the Citizen and the Constitution program. In 1996, she joined the Civitas team, a program for the Center for Civic Education and the U.S. Department of Education. The purpose was to prepare teachers in newly emerging democracies to teach their students how to become responsible citizens. She primarily worked in Bosnia and Herzegovina and other Balkan countries, and also worked in countries around the world even remote Mongolia. In 2003, she was hired to open a foundation in Las Vegas, called Project R.E.A.L., to teach all age students in Nevada about the relevance of the law in their lives. In 2010, she returned full-time to Reno and two weeks later walked into Tim Young’s office and asked if she could become a volunteer for the Reno Phil. Judy has three children, step-daughter Connie Harding-Sundin, daughter Jody Wright and son Flip Wright. She has four grandchildren and three great grandchildren.