The Greater Southwest Music Festival was founded in 1969 by a group of local businessmen, musicians, educators, and other professionals to promote the educational and cultural aspects of fine arts among young people in middle and high schools. The first festival was held in 1971 and has been ongoing annually since that time. The Festival continues to operate as an incentive for public interest and encouragement of music excellence in education.
A fixture of the Amarillo, TX community, the Greater Southwest Music Festival has encouraged musical excellence in grade school students in a 5-state area through competition and performance, drawing between 8,000-10,000 participants annually. Student musicians make up full bands, orchestras, and choirs; many students typically enter the ‘Solo & Ensemble’ portion of the competition, too, with vocal or instrumental solos and small chamber ensembles with mixed instrumentation.
In June 2018, the Greater Southwest Music Festival, once a standalone non-profit organization, voted to come under the Amarillo Symphony’s umbrella. Founded in 1924, the Amarillo Symphony is the only professional orchestra in the Texas Panhandle, offering an array of successful youth educational programs in addition to regularly scheduled concerts. The Amarillo Symphony aims to enrich life in the Texas Panhandle through great orchestral performance and educational/community engagement. Now the largest single education initiative under Symphony leadership, staff—with the help of seasoned, dedicated volunteers on the Greater Southwest Music Festival Committee—is working hard to maintain the Festival’s legacy while ensuring quality experiences to our participants.