About Us

Our Mission

MSO, Inc. pursues the following goals in order to support the work of the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra and to accomplish its mission:

  • To provide musical programs of the highest quality for the community
  • To give local amateur and volunteer professional musicians the opportunity to play and to grow as musicians
  • To support young musicians of the community through collaboration and inclusion in our concerts and activities
  • To enhance and develop the appreciation of fine music in the community

Our History

The MSO was founded in 1946-47. Chester J. Petranek spearheaded the effort to found the orchestra by persuading Montgomery County Junior College (now Montgomery College) and the Department of Adult Education of the Montgomery County Public Schools to take on the project. The goal was to promote cultural development in the county by giving its citizens good music without cost. John Riggleman briefly served as the first music director.

For the MSO, Petranek recruited members, set up rehearsals, bought music, found instruments for those who were without, organized concerts and was generally the “music man.”

For years under Petranek, the MSO played on the streets of Takoma Park during commencement exercises for the Junior College. After the Rockville campus was built, the MSO played in the gymnasium for commencements until the college formed its own student orchestra. Regular fall and spring MSO concerts were performed in school gymnasiums, auditoriums and retirement homes throughout the county. Leisure World in Silver Spring was a frequent venue, including some September outdoor concerts and the 1986 celebration of Leisure World’s 20th anniversary that featured local politicians and fireworks.

For over 40 years, the MSO has also frequently accompanied the winners of the Maryland State Music Teachers Association Piano Concerto Competition, accompanying different students as they perform each movement. John Gerschefski took the baton after Petranek suffered a stroke in 1993. Gerschefski began an association with the NIH Clinical Center, performing annual benefit concerts in the Masur Auditorium.

Nevilla E. Ottley was conductor for the 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 seasons.

A. Scott Wood has been music director and conductor since 2002. He also conducts the Arlington Philharmonic, the Washington Conservatory Orchestra and the National Cathedral School Orchestra. He is executive director of Amadeus Concerts and conductor of the professional Amadeus Orchestra. While attending University of Illinois, Wood was chosen to travel to London as a finalist in the International Trumpet Guild Solo Competition, and in recent years he has conducted and played trumpet with brass ensembles. At the September, 2007, memorial service for NSO Principal Trombonist Milton Stevens at National Presbyterian Church, Wood conducted the Washington Symphonic Brass in a transcription of part of the Saint-Saens Organ Symphony.

When in recent years the Adult Education Department at Montgomery College was closed, the MSO incorporated as an independent 501(c)(3) organization and continues to provide high-quality musical programs for the community.


You can view the MSO’s governing bylaws by clicking here.