January 19, 2006

Southern Illinois Symphony fund-raiser set

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra celebrates a special musical birthday when it holds its annual fund-raiser this month.

Tickets are on sale now for the event, set for 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center, 150 E. Pleasant Hill Road. The evening includes a silent auction, dinner and concert featuring the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who would be 250 years old that day.

Edward Benyas, music director for the orchestra, said the fund-raiser is important to the annual operations of the organization.

"The money we raise goes directly toward the support of our programs," Benyas said.

The orchestra is more than 100 years old and staffed by SIUC students and faculty, as well as community members. It plays a vital role on campus, accompanying student and faculty musicians in both music and theater. It also plays a series of educational concerts for young people throughout the region each year.

Marianne Lawrence, a member of the patrons committee and chair of the auction, said auction bidders have a shot at trips, tickets, dinners and other items. Items up for bid include a St. Louis Symphony Orchestra package, a five-day stay in Hilton Head, S.C., large, decorative yard planters, dinners and numerous works donated by local artists.

"It's our only fund-raiser and it's important to support the programs we're doing, which is a season of six performances," Lawrence said. "It also helps us bring in noted guest artists," as well as paying for Klassics for Kids, a music program for infants and toddlers.

Funds also go to support the Southern Illinois Music Festival, a three-week series of concerts throughout the area featuring local and guest musicians from around the country, Lawrence said. The second such event begins in June.

The concert portion of the fund-raiser will feature the music of Mozart, an 18th century Austrian composer credited with composing some of the most beautiful and recognizable music in the world.

Tickets for the event are $50. Call 618/457-6178 for reservations.

Expanding cultural outreach efforts is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University if following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.