The Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) was founded in 1943 by Edwin Juergens, William Minnick and William Fiedler, the organization’s first conductor. The first complete concert was performed in 1944 at Central Methodist Church in Springfield. In addition to William Fiedler, the SSO has been under the musical direction of seven leaders: Walter Heermann from 1946-1948; Guy Taylor from 1948-1951; Evan Whallon from 1951-1957; Jackson Wiley from 1957-1970; Robert Gutter from 1970-1972; John E. Ferritto from 1972-2001; and current Music Director and Conductor, Peter Stafford Wilson.
The SSO performed in Springfield’s Memorial Hall from 1944-1985. For the 1985-86 Season, the SSO moved to the North High School Auditorium. During the Symphony’s 50th anniversary season (1993-94), it gave its first performance in the Kuss Auditorium for the Gala Opening on November 6, 1993.
In 1950, the SSO presented the first Concerts for Young People. Today, students from Clark, Greene, Champaign, and Madison counties are bused to Clark State Performing Arts Center’s Kuss Auditorium for performances. These concerts are often the children’s first exposure to symphonic music.
The SSO sponsors a Youth Symphony, Youth Chamber Orchestra, Youth String Ensemble, and Children’s Choir. Organized in 1959, the youth orchestra program gives talented young people the opportunity to develop their musical skills. Although many middle and high schools have string ensembles and/or band programs, the Springfield Youth Symphony provides students and home schooled students in Clark County the only opportunity to perform in a full orchestral setting. The Children’s Choir was formed in 2012 and provides area students the opportunity to further develop vocal skills and perform choral works in a variety of settings and often in conjunction with professional musicians.
During the summer months, the SSO presents a free outdoor concert as part of the Springfield Arts Council’s Summer Arts Festival. The SSO also presents special outreach programs called Lunch on the Lawn, featuring small ensembles that perform during the lunch hour at the Springfield Museum of Art.
For more information on the SSO, please call the administrative office at 937-325-8100.