(Michael Gesme. Photo courtesy of Central Oregon Symphony)
Now in his 22nd season as the conductor of the Central Oregon Symphony (COS), Michael Gesme serves as professor of music and chair of the fine arts and communication department at Central Oregon Community College. In addition to his duties with the COS, Michael conducts the Cascade Winds Symphonic Band and teaches courses in music theory, ear training, music history, and conducting and is an active clinician and adjudicator in the region.
Michael also conducts the Central Oregon Chamber Orchestra, various performances for Shore Thing Productions and OperaBend as well as the orchestras of the Young Musicians and Artists (YMA) summer camp held in Salem, Oregon.
Michael received his bachelor’s degree from Luther College (Decorah, IA) and his master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he met his wife, Janet, an adjunct professor of German at COCC and does translating work for Head Start (Spanish) and Volunteers in Medicine (Russian). Their son, Alex, is a junior at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin and daughter, Zeta, is a sophomore at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C. Though seemingly no less busy, things are decidedly a whole lot quieter at the Gesme household these days.
The Central Oregon Symphony is a community-based orchestra, the success of which is grounded in the tremendous generosity of its members who volunteer their time and talent for the love of orchestral music. The ensemble was formed in 1967 as a part of the expanding Central Oregon Community College Fine Arts Department.
During the 1997-98 season concerts were moved to the 1,400 seat Bend High School Auditorium. The audience base continued to grow and within three years, all available seats were taken for both the Saturday and Sunday performance series. In the spring of 2000, the orchestra musicians voted to add a third performance to each concert weekend, providing the opportunity for even more individuals to attend. Today, under Gesme’s leadership, the annual season attendance is just under 8,300 patrons.
The symphony celebrated its 50th season in 2016-17.
Central Oregon Symphony Association