Dr. Gregory Jackson is a renowned composer, conductor, educator, and author. He is the Director of Orchestras at South Cobb High School in the Atlanta area. Dr. Jackson has published over a dozen books sold worldwide, has composed 6 symphonies and has more than 150 completed works. He was a semi-finalist for the American Prize for Composition, won 2nd Prize for the American Prize in Conducting in 2020, and won 3rd Prize for the 2023 American Prize in Conducting competition for the Orchestra Division. For the American String Teacher Association (ASTA), he is the Mentorship Committee Chair.
He was on staff at Southwind Drum & Bugle Corps as an Ensemble Specialist. From 2017 until 2020 Dr. Jackson was Director of Bands at Saint James School and was an Associate Professor of music at Alabama State University for ten years. He received the Bachelor of Science degree in Performance, Specialization in Music Composition from Austin Peay State University, the Master of Music degree in Music Theory/Composition from The University of Alabama, the Master of Music Education with emphasis in Conducting from the University of Georgia, a Certificate in Advanced Graduate Studies in Orchestral Conducting from Messiah University with emphasis in string pedagogy, and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Performance at the University of Alabama.
Jackson studied conducting with Dr. Timothy Dixon, Dr. Gerald Welker, Dr. Michael Robinson, and Bob Lee. He has attended conducting masterclasses with Leonard Slatkin, Dr. Julius Williams, Giancarlo Guerrero, Dr. Isaiah Jackson, and Dr. Mark Laycock. His conducting mentor is Dr. Lawrence Golan.
For composition studies, his major professors include Dr. Jeffrey Wood, Dr. Marvin Johnson, and Dr. Craig First and he has attended masterclasses with John Corigliano, Nigel Clarke, and Dr. Cedric Dent of Take 6. Jackson was also a composition student of Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Dr. Frederic Goossen.
His string teachers include Professor Kerry Harker-Roth, William Pu, and Dr. Solie Fott. He currently studies with Sissi Yuqing Zhang, who is a 1st violinist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and lives in the Metro Atlanta area with his wife Autumn and daughter Isabella.
"The vibrations on the air are the breath of God speaking to man's soul. Music is the language of God. We musicians are as close to God as man can be. We hear his voice, we read his lips, we give birth to the children of God, who sing his praise. That's what musicians are."
"To play wrong notes is insignificant. To play without passion is inexcusable."
"I haven't a single friend; I must live alone. But well I know that God is nearer to me than to the others of my art; I associate with Him without fear, I have always recognized and understood Him, and I have no fear for my music,-it can meet no evil fate. Those who understand it must become free from all the miseries that the others drag with them."
SDG is shorthand for a Latin phrase, Soli Deo Gloria, which can mean, "For the Glory of God Alone" or “Glory to God Alone.”
Bach wrote these three letters at the end of his compositions to make the ultimate purpose of his work clear and serves as a reminder for us all each day —the music was not to bring glory to the performers or the conductor (or even to Bach, as the composer). This incredible music was crafted for the glory of God.
This picture is from one of Bach's scores because for him every note, chord, and page of music pointed beyond itself, beyond its human creator, to the Creator.
SDG captures the essence of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” For Bach, adding SDG was an opportunity to remember that all of life is meant for God’s glory. Everything, especially music, can be used give him the praise and honor he deserves.