Edward Benyas is Music Director of the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Music Director Designate of the Chicago Chamber Orchestra, with which he made his European conducting debut, and founder and Artistic Director of the Southern Illinois Music Festival, which presents over 40 concerts in a three-week period. Mr. Benyas has also served as Music Director of the Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra, the North Shore Chamber Orchestra, Symphony Fantastique! and the Southern Illinois Youth Orchestra. He appeared on national television leading a chorus and orchestra comprised of musicians from throughout Illinois during funeral services for the late Senator Paul Simon. Under his leadership, the Southern Illinois Symphony was named Community Volunteer Orchestra of the Year in Illinois. In 2005, he was named Conductor of the Year by the Illinois Council of Orchestras.
A student of Ray Still, Robert Morgan and Victor Yampolsky, Mr. Benyas holds a graduate degree in Orchestral Conducting and Oboe Performance from Northwestern University, as well as Bachelor and Juris Doctor degrees from the University of Michigan. He also studied at the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors under the late Charles Bruck, and at the International Workshop for Opera Conductors with the late Georg Tintner.
Mr. Benyas has guest-conducted orchestras in California, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Georgia, Louisiana, North Dakota, Virginia, Maine, Washington, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. Important past conducting engagements include conducting La Bohème at the Silesian State Opera, guest conducting the New Symphony Orchestra of Sofia, Bulgaria, the Des Moines Metro Opera Orchestra and Apprentice Artists, the Illinois Chamber Symphony, the Northwestern University Chamber Orchestra, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and directing the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra before President Clinton and an audience of 10,000. Of his appearance with the Illinois Chamber Symphony, the Copley Chicago Newspapers wrote: "Edward Benyas' clear directions from the podium helped create a night of true magic." A California reviewer wrote: “Maestro Benyas captured every subtle nuance and capitalized upon every beautiful moment in the symphony while maintaining balance and precision. He simply swept the audience away with a beautiful presentation of this piece.”
In 1998, Mr. Benyas helped establish the Sofia-Mt. Vitosha International Conducting Institute, where he coached rising young conductors from the United States, South America and Europe. Since 1998, Mr. Benyas has led the Chicago Chamber Orchestra on numerous tours of the Midwest, including performances at historic opera houses in Southern Illinois and Northern Michigan. His conducted repertoire includes nearly 400 works, including a dozen world premieres and over a dozen complete operas and ballets.
Mr. Benyas also enjoys an active career as an oboe and English horn player, having performed with the Chicago Symphony under Daniel Barenboim, the Lyric Opera under Zubin Mehta, the Milwaukee and Grant Park Symphonies, the Ravinia Festival Orchestra, at the Spoleto, Banff and Carmel Bach summer music festivals, as Principal Oboe for Andrea Bocelli’s National Tour, as founder/director of The Oak Street Winds and as Principal Oboist of the Des Moines Metro Opera. His 2002 appearance as conductor and oboe soloist with Rachel Barton and the Chicago Chamber Orchestra was broadcast on WSIU public television, and his appearance with The Oak Street Winds on the Dame Myra Hess Recital Series was broadcast live nationally on 300 affiliate radio stations. Mr. Benyas serves on the Boards of Directors of the WSIU Friends Board, and the SISO Patrons Committee. In 2007, he received the “Keeping the Arts in Business” Award from the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce. He is also a member of the state bar of Illinois and practiced law for five years in Chicago before pursuing music full-time.