Our History

Coastal Symphony of Georgia 

Our Mission

The Mission of the Coastal Symphony of Georgia, Inc. is to engage, enrich and inspire our community through artistically vibrant musical performances

The Coastal Symphony of Georgia began with the vision of two public school music teachers and has developed through the years as a full partner in the rich cultural fabric of the Golden Isles. Now in our 36th Symphony Season, we are grateful to the many conductors, musicians and volunteers who have brought lovely evenings of inspiring music to our community.

In 1982, Michelle Lazarus and Michael Smith, local public school music teachers, wanted to offer high school string students an opportunity to perform with experienced string and wind musicians in an orchestral setting. This led to the formation of the Brunswick Community Orchestra (BCO.) Early members included Barbara Anderson (harp), Deborah Ray and Michael Smith (violin); Michelle Lazarus (viola); Donna Grice (clarinet); Jim Walters, Larry Parrish, Bob Callahan, David Quackenbush and Willie Hammett (trumpet); Jennifer Rex, Nancy Rentz and Willie Hammett (French horn); Mickey Wendell and Willie Hammett (trombone); Holly Parrish (flute); John Curran (timpani); and John Landry (oboe.)

Three years later the BCO was incorporated and granted tax exempt status by the IRS. The new board of directors hired the BCO’s first professional conductor, Nicholas Palmer for a season of three concerts; Roger Born served as conductor from 1986 to 1993. In 1994, the organization was renamed The Coastal Symphony of Georgia (CSG) and Richard Suggs was hired as music director/conductor. Kermit Breen served in that position from 1998 to 2002 and Richard Larson until 2004.

In 2004, Vernon Humbert took the baton and with new directives, initiatives and the addition of professional musicians to the community-based orchestra, brought the symphony to a higher level of maturity and musical accomplishment.

With an organizational vision of providing the best in musical excellence, Maestro Luis Haza was named Music Director/Conductor in 2013, and the symphony’s first official General Manager, Jorge Peña was hired. Under their leadership, professional musicians from throughout the Southeast offer a classical music repertoire with a dedication to performing at the very best level possible for our community.

With Maestro Haza’s retirement following the 2017-2018 season, we welcomed Michelle Merrill to the podium.  As Music Director/Conductor, she is committed to our high quality of excellence and designs symphony programs of superlative quality for our audiences.

The Coastal Youth Symphony was formed as an affiliate of the CSG in 2005. Through the years, the orchestra of talented youngsters became the premier performance vehicle for local youth. In 2014, the CYS became its own entity and reorganized as the Golden Isles Youth Orchestra. The CSG is proud to have been a major part of the growth and development of this fine orchestra which has become one of the community’s greatest assets.

The Coastal Symphony of Georgia understands the importance of a rich cultural fabric to the successful development of any area and is proud to take its place alongside the many fine artistic offerings in the Golden Isles. We are grateful to the community for its loyal support through gifts, attendance at concerts, and valuable volunteer time which makes our growth in musical excellence and fiscal health possible. We look forward to continuing this vibrant partnership and to offering the community the very best in classical symphonic music.