Meet the Symphony | Music | SIU

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Meet the Symphony

Meet The SymphonyThe Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra (SISO), composed of faculty and students of Southern Illinois University, talented community members and area professionals, has presented live orchestral music in Southern Illinois for over a century. The Illinois Council of Orchestras has named SISO Community Volunteer Orchestra of the Year and awarded it a Certificate of Recognition of Meritorious Programming.

The SISO has hosted such distinguished artists as Emanuel Ax, Christine Brewer, the Eroica Trio, and the concertmasters of the Philadelphia Orchestra and St. Louis Symphony. It appeared on national television (C-SPAN) during the funeral of the late Senator Paul Simon in 2003, and performed for President Clinton, a bevy of state and local dignitaries and an audience of 10,000 in 1995. The orchestra has presented All-American music programs for Presidents' Day, Election Day, Black History month, Veterans' Day, Lincoln’s 200th Birthday, Copland's 100th Birthday, and the Pearl Harbor Anniversary, as well as annual concerts for school children, a biennial Nutcracker production, the first Southern Illinois performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with a 100-voice chorus in 2001, and the production and release of several compact discs.

In Fall 2004, SISO established Klassics for Kids. This summer concert series helps expose infants and toddlers to live classical music and jazz. In 1997, a Patrons Committee of prominent members of the community formed to promote the orchestra as a community resource. The 30-member Patrons Committee volunteers their time year-round to promote the orchestra season, raise operating funds through corporate and individual contributions, sell program ads, increase the scholarship endowment, host pre-concert dinners, post-concert receptions and an annual benefit dinner.

Meet The SymphonyIn Summer 2005, Maestro Benyas and the SISO Patrons Committee established the Southern Illinois Music Festival (SIFest), an annual summer festival that includes over three dozen professional performances/presentations of classical music, ballet and jazz in two-dozen venues throughout Southern Illinois for three weeks in May and June. In 14 successful years of operations, audiences have steadily grown, the number and amount of individual, corporate and governmental sponsorship has increased, and the Festival has developed a national reputation for excellence. The majority of events are admission free, including over a dozen and a half geared especially for young persons, with the remaining events reasonably priced, and all performances are presented in an informal and audience-friendly manner.

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