Learn about our 70-year history.

ASO Legends, Archives

Over the years, many ASO musicians, conductors and guest artists have contributed to the wonderful success of the Orchestra. Each month, ASO Archivist Bob Scarr will present one of his favorites to be added to the category of ASO Legend status. Let’s start with none other than former Principal Trumpet player – John Head.


John Head, former ASO Principal Trumpet player

John Head, a native Atlantan, attended Brown High school in southwest Atlanta. Upon graduation he was awarded a full scholarship to Stetson University in Deland, Florida to pursue a career in music. He received his Bachelor of Music Degree in trumpet. He then was awarded a full assistantship to Indiana University to pursue a Master of Music Degree in Trumpet and Conducting.

After completing his graduate degree he became a member of the Aspen Festival Orchestra in Colorado. In the fall of 1961 he won the position of Principal Trumpet with the Birmingham Symphony in Alabama. During his tenure in Alabama he also taught trumpet at Howard University.

In 1963, he won the position of Principal Trumpet with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He was a member of the orchestra until his retirement in 1994. During this time he also served as Assistant Conductor to Robert Shaw, and was Acting Director of the first Summer Pops season in 1972. The success of this season led to the full time Pops season at Chastain Park.

Mr. Head can be heard on many of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra recordings. In addition, he has recorded and published five albums for trumpet and organ. He has also appeared as soloist on many occasions. His most memorable is a solo recital at Westminster Abbey in London, England.

Mr. Head has also had a distinguished career as a conductor. Over the past forty years he has served as guest conductor for many orchestras including the Rochester Philharmonic, the Buffalo Philharmonic, and the Florida Orchestra. He served as Music Director for the Atlanta Ballet and the Theatre of the Stars. For twenty years, Mr. Head was music director and conductor of the Artpark Summer Theatre in New York.

Mr. Head’s teaching assignments include twenty years at Georgia State University and ten years at Clark Atlanta University. Some of his former students hold key positions in many orchestras in the United States.

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra: 2016/17 Season Announcement