Jackson Symphony Guild

Jackson Symphony Guild

The Jackson Symphony Guild functions exclusively for the benefit of the Jackson Symphony Orchestra to assist support and further the presence of music in the community.

Each year the Jackson Symphony Guild works diligently to raise funds to support the Jackson Symphony Orchestra. On Saturday, April 30, 2016 Guild President Julie Duesing presented a check in the amount of $65,000 to the JSO. These funds represent 9% of the JSO fiscal budget and are critical to the success of the Orchestra. Funds raised through the annual Holiday Ball and Jazz Night, jewelry sales, and from Guild membership dues are used by the JSO to sustain general operations and they play a vital role in furthering the JSO commitment to community youth and young musicians.

Guild funds provide substantial scholarship monies for Jackson-area students who wish to attend Michigan music camps. Annually, $3,000 in Guild funds are also designated to the JSO with the express purpose of supporting the Jackson Youth Symphony. Quite apart from dollars, Guild members have acted as post-concert reception hosts and hostesses, office help, concert volunteers and have served on committees which organize the Holiday Ball and Jazz Night.

Music & Memory

The Jackson Symphony Guild has been working on bringing a new program to the Jackson community that would touch the lives of those with memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease or other related dementias. This new program will provide iPods, headphones and a personal playlist of music, free of charge to those in need. The Jackson District Library is working on a pilot program that would allow those wanting these devices to go to a certain library branch and borrow one for as long as needed. The program is still under development and more information will follow.

music-and-memoryThe Guild is working on raising funds that would help in the purchasing of the devises, headphones and music. On August 25, the Jackson Symphony Guild in partnership with the Michigan Theater and Lloyd Ganton Retirement Centers brought the Jackson community the impactful film “Alive Inside”. This 74 minute film is a cinematic exploration of music’s ability to reawaken our souls and uncover the deepest parts of our humanity. Filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett chronicles the amazing experiences of individuals around the country who have been revitalized through the simple experience of listening to music. His camera reveals the uniquely human connection we find in music and how its healing power can triumph where prescription medication falls short. This stirring documentary follows social worker Dan Cohen, founder of the nonprofit organization Music & Memory, as he fights against a broken healthcare system to demonstrate music’s ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering from it.

After the film the audience was able to participate in a discussion with panel experts, Jennifer Howard, executive director of the Michigan Great Lakes Alzheimer’s Association, Dr. Bruce Brown, composer in residence with the JSO and professor of music and the chair of the SAU music department and Jaime Lawrence, certified music therapist and owner of Harmony Garden Music Therapy. Stay tuned for more on this innovative new program. And if you would like to donate or become a sponsor, contact Donna Blake- Simmons at downtownblake@yahoo.com

More About the Guild

Since its inception, the Guild has grown in stature and strength. It is recognized throughout the state as one of the most effective musical arts support groups in Michigan and is the envy of many orchestras. Every year, peer-review panels from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs comment on the impressive role the Guild plays in supporting the JSO and its programs. The Guild is an organization of which we must all be truly proud!

Thank you to all who have worked to make the Jackson Symphony Guild a vital partner of the JSO and a promoter of the music arts in Jackson!

Mailing Address

PO Box 602
Jackson, MI 49204

Nineteen hundred and forty-nine not only gave birth to the Jackson Symphony Orchestra but the Women’s Division as well. The Jackson Symphony Guild History starts with its early members, under the leadership of Mrs. Earl Spiesberger, founding president, the Guild enthusiastically supported our Jackson Symphony Orchestra with the pledge to increase ticket sales and assist in promotion. Since that time with twelve in attendance at the first meeting, the Guild has grown to encompass over two hundred in membership.

Through the years the Guild has pioneered “after-glows” in Jackson and exemplified hospitality to traveling musicians with state-wide acclaim. Promotion and fundraising includes Holiday Balls, fashion show luncheons, book sales, Pop concerts, Shopping Days, cookbook sales, flea markets and Jazz Nights, to name a few of the more successful Guild projects. With spirited support, the Guild continues to fulfill its mission: To promote the enjoyment of music through increased support of the Jackson Symphony Orchestra.

The inspiring words of our first president remind us today of the important role we play in our support:

“Munching on the memories of the Jackson Symphony Orchestra makes me realize how fortunate so many of us were to have shared its birth pangs and pride in its maturity. There was no fear, no temerity in trying new things to keep it safe and enhance the public’s interest in what we felt was a giant step in the cultural growth of Jackson. Many men and women worked tirelessly to bring it all about. We now have one of the finer Symphony Orchestras in the state. Let us carry on to keep it safe and beautiful.” -Jenny Spiesberger


Julie Duesing

Stefanie Riggs
Vice President

Maryanne Fuchs

Laurie Cunningham
Assistant Treasurer

Debra Fairbanks
Recording Secretary

Marian Bliznik
Corresponding Secretary

Pat Willis
Past President

Board Members

Patrice Bisbee

Donna Blake-Simmons

Laura Davenport

Danielle Dobies

Paula Durbrow

Christy Ellis

Heather Fuchs

Kim Hastings-Curtis

Joanne Holman

Donna Lake

Mary McVicker

Susan Riley

Andrea Stickney

Dea Talmage

Lynda Waldron

Linda Wray

Directors Emeritus

Ken Baxter*

Pat Beffel*

Joan Boldrey*

Joan Cummings

Nora Dillon

Barbara Duke*

Elayne Eberhart

Helen Greene*

Nancy Kyro*

Karen Maas*

Erin Mazur

Victoria McFerran

Karen Moilanen

Joyce Phelps*

Donna Riley

Sue Rochester*

*Denotes Lifetime Emeritus Status

Annual Meeting Committee

Committee organizes May annual meeting.

Community Music School Children’s Recitals

Volunteers assist at music school recitals.

Concert Greeters

Friendly greeters from the Guild are needed to warmly welcome Jackson Symphony Orchestra concertgoers as they arrive at Potter Center.

Event Host in Your Home

The JSO sometimes holds a reception for contributors, guest artists and others, or immediately following a concert in the Subscription Series. On these occasions a volunteer host or hostess is needed for the reception.


Explore Guild fundraising opportunities and assist with Holiday Ball solicitations.

Guest Artist Hospitality

Volunteer hosts and hostesses provide lodging, meals and transportation for guest artists and their families as needed.

History Book

Members maintain an ongoing photo history of the Guild and JSO events.

Holiday Ball

This gala dinner-dance, held on the first Saturday in December, is the Guild’s largest fundraiser. It requires dozens of volunteers to plan the event, mail invitations, contact potential contributors, prepare publicity, obtain Silent Auction items, set up auction items, put together a program book and decorate for the event.

Help with Decorating Day of the Holiday Ball

On the morning of the Holiday Ball, meet at the Country Club to help decorate for the Ball.

Spring Fundraising Event

Committee members contact musicians, make arrangements with a restaurant, prepare publicity and sell tickets to this annual event.

JSO Hall – Holiday Decorating

Decorate the JSO Performing Arts Center during the Holiday Season. Post season, remove decorations.

JSO Office Volunteers

Volunteers answer phones, sell tickets and assist with office work.

JSO Season Ticket Drive

Assist with season ticket renewal or serve refreshments during intermission for March concert.

Mailing – Addressing – Labeling

Preparing mass mailings.


Assist in advertising, brochure design and mailings about the Jackson Symphony Guild.


Volunteers with a variety of skills are needed for this very important committee, including people who enjoy preparing printed materials on a computer, talking with potential members, assembling packets of materials, addressing invitations, and helping with mass mailings.


Members of this committee produce the Guild’s “Interlude” newsletter. Volunteers who enjoy writing, taking photographs or designing page layouts on a computer are needed for this committee.

Volunteer at Large

Just want to be called when a need arises? This is for you!

2016 – Pat Willis

2015 – Ken Baxter

2014 – Joan Cummings

2013 – Donna Lake

2012 – Mary McVicker

2011 – Barbara Duke

2008 – Maryanne Fuchs

2007 – Pat Beffel, Jr.

2006 – Susan Rochester

2005 – Joyce Phelps

2004 – Karen Maas

2003 – Helen Greene

2002 – Linda English

2001 – Viola Main

2000 – Anne Moore

1999 – Mary Spring

1998 – Miriam Walker

1997 – Eva Hamilton

1996 – Harriette Emmet

1995 – Jane Botsford

mary-springThe Jackson Symphony Guild Board of Directors is proud to offer the Mary Spring into Music Scholarship Award. The scholarship award will be given in the memory of Mary Spring each year. Since Mary’s legacy was one of achieving excellence in all that she did, we will be giving an annual award to the Community Music School’s most outstanding student in the area of excellence in musical achievement. The award winner will be featured as a soloist each year at our JSG Annual Meeting in May. To donate please call the JSO at 517-782-3221 to pick up a donation envelope. Checks should be made payable to the Jackson Symphony Guild with Mary Spring in the memo portion.



2016 Recipient
Laura Coleman


2015 Recipient
Jacklyn McAninch