Samuel Jones, born on June 2, 1935, in Inverness, Mississippi, has enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a composer, conductor, and educator. A graduate of Central High School in Jackson, Mississippi, he received his undergraduate degree with highest honors at Millsaps College. He acquired his professional training at the Eastman School of Music, where he earned his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in composition under Howard Hanson, Bernard Rogers, and Wayne Barlow. A former conducting student of Richard Lert and William Steinberg, Jones’ numerous conducting credits include tenures as conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic, music advisor of the Flint Symphony, and music director of the Saginaw Symphony.
Jones first established his reputation, however, not with the composer’s pen but with the maestro’s baton: as a conductor, he advanced through the ranks of smaller American orchestras to become conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic. A lifelong teacher, Jones founded the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, serving for six years as its dean, and then continuing as Professor of Conducting and Composition and Director of Graduate Studies. There he continued to compose, producing a substantial catalogue of significant works in several genres. After Jones’ 24 years at Rice, in 1997 he retired from full-time academic life, and he and his wife moved to the Seattle area. Jones then was appointed the Seattle Symphony’s composer-in-residence by the orchestra’s longtime music director Gerard Schwarz, who also was artistic director of the All-Star Orchestra. The appointment, and the subsequent 14-year partnership with Schwarz, would prove extraordinarily fruitful.
Among Samuel Jones’ honors and awards: a Grammy® nomination for the Seattle Symphony recording of his work for children, “The Shoe Bird,” based on a story by Eudora Welty; a Ford Foundation Recording/Publication Award; a Martha Baird Rockefeller Grant; NEA Grants; repeated ASCAP Awards; an International Angel Award; the Seattle Symphony Artistic Recognition Award; the Houston Symphony Distinguished Service Award; and six Music Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters. He received an honorary doctorate from Millsaps College in 2000 and was honored by the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame.
Jones’ compositions include three symphonies, six concertos, and many other orchestral works, as well as works for chorus and orchestra, opera, and chamber groups. His music is published by Carl Fischer, Theodore Presser, and Campanile Music Press and is recorded by Naxos, CRI, Gasparo, ACA, Centennial Records, and Brilliance Audio.