History and Accomplishments
As one of the oldest and most prestigious youth orchestras in the country, the KJSO is dedicated to advancing music education and orchestral performance opportunities to youth in Southwest Michigan.
Some of our most prominent musical alumni have gone on to positions in the Symphony Orchestras of Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Seattle, San Francisco, and Liege (Belgium), to name but a few. Closer to home, KJSO alumni form substantial portions of the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek Symphony Orchestras, the Kalamazoo Philharmonia, and the Kalamazoo Concert Band.
The KJSO was founded in 1939 by Eugene Andrie, its first conductor. Over the decades, the KJSO has been led by several fine conductors:
Eugene Andrie, 1939 – 1941
Julius Stulberg, 1941 – 1974
Herbert Butler, 1974 – 1978
Dr. Robert Ritsema, 1978 – 2001
Steven Ward, 2001 – 2006
Andrew Koehler, 2007 – present