The Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra (SSO) is the oldest continually active orchestra in the State of Wisconsin. It was established in 1918. The Sheboygan Symphony was formed out of the music-loving tradition of the German immigrants who settled in Sheboygan County at the turn of the century. Nine conductors, hundreds of talented musicians, countless dedicated board members and volunteers, as well as thousands of loyal patrons have ensured sustainable growth over the past nine decades.
Throughout its history, the SSO mission has been to enrich the artistic lives of the community and the players, and to offer educational programs that foster music appreciation for adults and children. The 70 symphony musicians perform 5 concerts each year, a special holiday concert and two children’s concerts.
The SSO is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization with an annual budget of about $350,000. The restored and historically landmarked Stefanie H. Weill Center for the Performing Arts, located at the heart of downtown Sheboygan, is the symphony’s home concert venue.
Dr. Kevin McMahon began his tenure with the SSO in the 2010-2011 musical season. Kevin also serves as associate conductor of the New York Repertory Orchestra in New York City, Music Director and Conductor for the Wheaton Symphony Orchestra and Artistic Director and Conductor of the Maud Powell Music Festival.
The Sheboygan Symphony Chorus
In 1994 Director Emeritus Janet L. Herrick, a Professor of Music at Lakeland College auditioned local talent to form a chorus that would sing with the Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra. Today the 60 member chorus performs with Fabian Quamar as its director, at two concerts per season. Twenty four Chorus members have been singing with the group since its inception.
The Symphony Carolers
From Thanksgiving until New Year’s Eve, individual groups of between 10 and 25 chorus members perform seasonal music as the Symphony Chorus Carolers at venues around the Sheboygan. They are often in demand for corporate events as well as convention and visitor destinations in the area
The Sheboygan Area Youth Symphony (SAYS)
The Concert Orchestra
The Concert Orchestra continues to grow and will be under the direction of Michael Lund Ziegler this fall. The Sheboygan Area Youth Symphony is the only professionally organized orchestral opportunity for area youth. This group was founded in 1982 as a full orchestra of about 35 musicians under the leadership of co-conductors, Debbie Williamson and Lewis Schmidt. Today the Concert Orchestra has grown to over 129 musicians representing 19 different communities and 29 different schools, including many homeschoolers. The orchestra has performed nationally and even internationally, recently taking performing tours to Toronto, Canada and Charleston / Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. During the 2013-2014 season, the Concert Orchestra traveled to Boston, Massachusetts, performing several outstanding public concerts and enjoying many of the historical sites around the Boston area.
Our newest ensemble, The Sinfonia, began its first season in 2012 as a small, string orchestra with 18 players. In the fall of 2014, The Sinfonia expanded to include woodwinds, brass and percussion and now number 50 performers. They offer a high quality full orchestra experience under the capable baton of Fabian Qamar. The young musicians have not only experienced growth in numbers, but in musicianship as well.
Guests can enhance their concert experience by joining Music Director, Dr. Kevin McMahon, guest artist and orchestra musicians for a pre-concert discussion of the evening’s performance and its historical and artistic context. The pre-concert talk is a free event for concert ticket holders. Generally 60-80 concertgoers enjoy the 45 minute presentation, along with coffee and pastries.
Guest artists each season meet with local musicians of all ages to share their talent, instrumental expertise and love of music. The one hour classes are held the Friday prior to the Saturday performance. The informal gathering of music lovers is an open exchange between the guest artist and those in attendance. Musicians, especially the youth are encouraged to perform a selection for the guest artists and collaborate on the techniques of the selection and instrument.
Each year The Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra and Sheboygan County School District introduce orchestral music to all public and parochial fourth-grade students, by providing an authentic concert experience. Each spring children are introduced to the instruments that comprise the orchestra, by members of the SSO and experience first-hand the unmatched beauty of live, classical musical performances. A custom curriculum is provided all educators which build upon the experience. Over 33,750 students have attended the Children's Concerts over the past 23 years.