November 01, 2019

Southern Illinois Symphony to honor SIU’s sesquicentennial

by Jason Franchuk

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra’s season at Shryock Auditorium continues on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. when it commemorates SIU’s 150th anniversary with 150 years of American music.

The symphony will present a musical setting of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, recited by J. Phil Gilbert, chair of the SIU Board of Trustees. The program will continue with Morton Gould’s “American Salute;” John Phillip Sousa’s “Thunderer” March, George Gershwin’s “American in Paris,” and Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag.”

Celebrating a ‘milestone birthday’

“SIU’s 150th anniversary gives the orchestra the opportunity to present a century and a half of American music, including the three greats: Gershwin, Copland and Bernstein, plus some great movie music, including Star Wars,” Music Director Edward Benyas said. “This will be our largest orchestra of the year — some 90 players — and also include special guests in Judge Gilbert, Mark Kiesling of WSIL as emcee, and the Concert Choir and Wind Ensemble. So it will be a great way to celebrate this milestone birthday of SIU!”

Big lineup featured

The Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra includes SIU music faculty, graduate and undergraduate music majors and non-majors, local professionals, community members and exceptional pre-college students, including more than a dozen from Carbondale Community High School. The symphony orchestra was established in 1903.

The SIU Concert Choir and Wind Ensemble will also perform and include two African-American spirituals, along with music by Aaron Copland and Joan Tower.

The second half of the concert features an eclectic array of music from the last half century, including a medley from Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story,” and music from “Star Wars” and “La La Land.”

The concert will conclude with the Armed Forces Salute and the university’s Alma Mater.

Benyas conducts the symphony, while fellow SIU professors Susan Davenport (concert choir) and Christopher Morehouse (wind ensemble) also will lead respective groups.

General admission tickets are $20 apiece and $8 for students under 18 or with a college ID.

To purchase tickets in advance, go in person to the Banterra Center or McLeod Theater box offices, call 618/453-2000 or go online to the Saluki Ticket Office. Tickets are also available at the Shryock Auditorium box office beginning one hour before the symphony concert.

For questions about the concert, please email Maestro Benyas at