The Murray State University Symphony Orchestra is composed of string, wind, and percussion players from throughout the campus and community. Under the direction of Professor Dennis L. Johnson, the orchestra traditionally programs the finest literature from the vast orchestral repertoire. Concerts are presented both on and off campus, and the organization has gained a reputation for excellence and service. The orchestra is one of only a few ensembles that embraces members of both the community and the student body. The assistant conductor is Dr. Frederick Ripley.
Dennis L. Johnson is the director of bands and orchestra and an associate professor of music at Murray State University. He conducts the Chamber Winds, the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, the University Symphony Orchestra, and the pit orchestra for operas and musicals. In 2001, he served as executive secretary and president-elect for the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, and he has recently served as Kentucky state chair for the College Band Directors National Association and collegiate representative to the Kentucky Music Educators Association. Under Johnsons leadership, the MSU Wind Ensemble has performed special concerts at Carnegie Hall (for the College Band Directors National Association Conference) and at the International Wind Band Conference in Manchester, England.
Johnson has directed bands in two Michigan public school systems, spent four years as director of bands and personnel coordinator for the Interlochen Center for the Arts, and directed the wind ensembles at Western Illinois University. He has served as a guest clinician and conductor at music camps and for honor and professional bands and orchestras in the U.S. and abroad. He graduated from the University of Michigan and attended Michigan State University in an instrumental conducting program.