The Powder River Symphony was founded on the belief that, "Great music should be available to everyone" with a threefold mission: to enrich the cultural lives of adults, expand the musical horizons of children and provide an outlet for the creative talents of musicians living in northeast and central Wyoming. The PRS traditionally serves the citizens that reside throughout the area of the Powder River Basin--Campbell, Crook, Weston, Johnson, Sheridan and Northern Natrona and Converse counties. As a primary cultural resource for the area, the PRS provides outreach into the schools with professional artists and conductors, as well as providing professional development for music educators.
The orchestra began as the Gillette Community Orchestra on November 23rd, 1986. The 25-member ensemble, under the direction of string teacher Susan Barry, consisted of community residents and band and orchestra students from local schools. In the summer of 1987, Curtis Peacock became the conductor of the newly incorporated Powder River Symphony. The orchestra performed in local schools and churches until March 19, 1989, when the newly opened Cam-Plex Heritage Center Theater became the ensemble’s home.
Peacock led the orchestra for more than 20 years until the autumn of 2006 when Steven Trinkle became the second conductor of the PRS. During his tenure, changes were implemented in keeping with the mission statement and to this end, all children 18 years of age and under are admitted free to the concerts when accompanied by a paying adult, and more recently, Gillette College students are able to attend free of charge by showing their ID card. Trinkle also connected with local radio stations and public access television prior to each concert by giving interviews and attracting a larger audience through subsequent performance broadcasts.
In 2011 the Powder River Symphony was pleased to welcome its third conductor, Norman Gamboa, for the last concert of their 25th season and in 2017 Steven Trinkle was reappointed the conductor and artist director by the symphony Board of Directors. Today the PRS consists of approximately 40 local musicians (citizens and students from Campbell County) who volunteer their time and talents, and the group is still supplemented by professional paid musicians from the surrounding area.
In addition to funding from the local community and grants, the PRS the Parade of Homes is held on either the first or second Sunday afternoon in December. An annual event in Gillette the home tour helps kick off the Holiday Season. Funds from these events are directed toward scholarships for high school seniors who have participated in the symphony.
For more information about the Powder River Symphony, access the symphony Facebook page and website (prsymphony.org/wp) Concert information is listed, as well as prices for concerts, and information about the fundraisers.