top of page

A Volunteer Community Orchestra in Winston-Salem, NC

From classical to modern, the volunteer musicians of the SCO strive for a high level of musical performance, but never forget to have fun. We seek musicians of all ages who like to play a variety of musical styles ranging from intermediate to fairly advanced levels of difficulty. It may be the perfect musical outlet for home-schooled musicians looking for a group to join, professionals in other fields looking for a creative outlet, amateur musicians, retired professional musicians, and many others. Peter Perret, our Musical Director and Conductor, is a professional musician of the higest caliber who is giving back to the community. In keeping with our goals, we offer free concerts and seek to enrich the lives of musicians and audiences of all ages. We rely on donations to enable our outreach to continue. As we are a nonprofit organization, all donations are tax deductable. 

Our Music Director

Born in Minnesota to a family of artists and scientists, Peter Perret is the Conductor Emeritus of the Winston-Salem Symphony, having served as Music Director from 1978 to 2004.  Previously, Perret had served the Buffalo Philharmonic as Exxon/Arts Endowment Conductor for three years, and before that he was Principal Conductor of the Capetown Symphony (South Africa).  He received advanced degrees in music from the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, Belgium and the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, Italy.  He became the first staff Producer of music programs for the French-Swiss television network.

Perret frequently lectures on the relationship of music to learning and has co-authored the book (with Janet Fox), “A Well-Tempered Mind; Using Music to Help Children Listen and Learn,” aimed at parents and teachers, published by the Dana Press in 2004 and 2006 and available on Kindle. 

He is a founding member and former chairman of the board of directors of the Arts-Based charter school in downtown Winston-Salem.  He taught orchestral studies at the [University of] North Carolina School of the Arts for seven years.  He is a native French-speaker and has qualified (Praxis II in French in 2011) to teach French.  He has served as a long-term substitute teacher in the Winston-Salem Forsyth County School System.

            Currently, Maestro Perret serves as Music Director of the Danville (VA) Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia of Greensboro, and the Salem Community Orchestra and writes for the Classical Voice of North Carolina ( ), an on-line arts magazine.  Most recently, he was engaged by the University of NC in Greensboro (UNCG) to conduct a series of full-length performances of Falstaff,  Verdi’s last opera and musical jewel.

Our History


      James Basta 

  Founding Director

Founded in 1984 by James A. Basta, the Salem Community Orchestra has served as an outlet for the musical talents of professional and amateur musicians from all walks of life. The all-volunteer group gave their first concert in November of 1984. Since then, the orchestra has added members of diverse age, race, and background and performed in churches, hospitals, retirement centers, shopping malls, and more. Programs range from serious to light-hearted and encompass a wide variety of styles and levels of difficulty. 


Mr. Basta grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and studied piano and french horn. He attended the Eastman School of Music, graduating with a Bachelor's degree in French Horn, and began a distinguished 20 year career with the United States Marine Band, serving as principal French Horn, assistant conductor, arranger and worship service organist at the White House. He joined Trinity Moravian Church while living in the Washington D.C. area where he served as organist / choir director. He was also a vocal coach and conductor for the Arlington Theater Associates and the Prince Georges Civic Opera Company. In 1982, Jim and wife Beth moved to Clemmons, NC where he became organist / choir director at Home Moravian Church, and subsequently founded Little Symphony of Forsyth County and The Salem Community Orchestra.

bottom of page