Our History and Conductors

History

The Mason Orchestral Society was organized in 1975 and performed its first concert in June 1976 under the direction of Sandy Gerrish. There were about 16 members in the first orchestra and ages ranged from 7-77. The combined orchestras now have more than 60 members.

The Society is a non-profit organization which brings the enjoyment and teaching of orchestral music to Mason and surrounding communities. We meet weekly throughout the concert season in the Mason Middle School band room, and often hold our concerts in Mason First Church of the Nazarene, South Lansing Christian Church and the Mason High School auditorium.

With the financial support of the community, the Society has been able to,

  1. organize two community orchestras involving both student and adult musicians,
  2. operate a string lesson program for all ages,
  3. accumulate and maintain string instruments for beginning students,
  4. provide needed scholarship funds for string lessons, and
  5. provide scholarship funds to students enabling them to pursue other musical endeavors such as private lessons or music camp.

The Ingham County News editorial (May 4, 1977) headline "Congratulations" to the Mason Orchestral Society and directing it to "... keep up the good work" explains the Mason Orchestral Society's year of 1977. Members, students, parents, teachers and orchestra director, resident agent, officers and the community are all to be congratulated for the good work done in 1977. Also all are to be congratulated for the direction and projection into the year 1978.

This congratulatory editorial came after the Orchestra's May Day Concert. It read in part "The society performed to a full house at All Saints Lutheran Church. For those who attended, it was a delightful afternoon, a wonderful way to usher in the month of May. It was a pleasure to see young and old work together to produce beautiful music." Sandra Gerrish conducted the concert and the orchestra performed in spite of several unrehearsed events. Two babies arrived early, placing the Society's teacher, Karen O'Brien and violinist Alane Johnson, on the sideline. The night before the concert, Judy Campbell fell and broke her arm as she was leaving the last rehearsal. Bev Dean was called upon to take her place accompanying the orchestra on the piano.

Dr. Suren Petrosyan, Mason Symphony Conductor

Dr. Suren Petrosyan holds degrees in Orchestral Conducting and Cello Performance from Michigan State University and the Yerevan State Conservatory. Originally from Armenia, he began music lessons at the age of five and has dedicated his life to music as an active cello performer, teacher, and conductor.

Dr. Petrosyan has conducted concerts with symphony and chamber orchestras in Armenia, Europe, the United States, and Canada. In 2001, he founded the prizewinning “Scherzo” Youth Chamber Orchestra in his hometown of Yerevan; and in 2005, when he came to the U.S., founded the Pro Musica Ensemble in Lansing. Dr. Petrosyan aims to apply his internationally gained experience to reach a wide audience through performing a variety of pieces from different time periods and traditions.

As a cellist, Suren has won numerous competitions and awards, and has performed throughout the United States, Armenia, and in Europe, including performances in France, the Netherlands, and Russia, and most notably at the Bach International Festival in Leipzig. He is an active performer and has played with several Symphony Orchestras including the Lansing, Jackson, Alma, and Midland Symphonies in Michigan, as well as with the Sioux City Symphony and the Omaha Symphony.

As a teacher, Dr. Petrosyan has extensive experience both in Armenia where he received special nomination for “Best Teacher of the Year,” and at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp where he has conducted orchestras and taught cello for thirteen years.

Dr. Petrosyan currently serves as Music Director and Conductor of the Mason Symphony Orchestra, as well as on the teaching faculties of Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.

Catalina Barraza, Music Director and conductor of the Mason Philharmonic

Catalina Barraza pursued her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Michigan State University in violin performance with Dr. Walter Verdehr. She earned her Master of Music degree from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and her bachelor’s degree from Pontifical Javeriana University in her home city Bogota, Colombia.

Catalina has an extensive orchestra and chamber music experience. She has performed with Traverse Symphony, Hot Springs Music Festival, Bay View Music Festival, the World Orchestra, Segovia Music Festival and the Colombia National Symphony Orchestra, among others. As an orchestra player and chamber music violinist, she has performed throughout her native Colombia, Unite States, Israel and Spain. Catalina teaches Suzuki violin in the Okemos, Michigan area. She is also a faculty member of Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp.

Catalina started with the Mason Philharmonic Orchestra in the 2016-17 season. She is excited to make wonderful music each season and spread her love for music and enthusiasm to the youth.