The Sault Symphony Orchestra
The Sault Symphony Orchestra is based in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada, but is only made possible thanks to the cross-border cooperation of many dedicated American musicians. Its primary performance venues include the Kiwanis Community Theatre Centre and Central United Church in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral and the Soo Theatre in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. An average concert season consists of 4 to 6 concerts, plus a year-end fundraising event called Beer, Bratwurst and Beethoven. The
Music Director and Conductor of the Sault Symphony is John Wilkinson.
The Sault Symphony Orchestra first was formed in 1956 as the Sault Symphonette by Don Buchan, Ed Shrubsole, and Ed and Katherine Gartshore, among others. With support from Algoma Steel, the Symphonette gave live concerts and radio broadcasts. Don Buchan, and later James Whicher, conducted. In 1969, the group was renamed the Sault Symphony, and was directed by Lajos Bornyi. Within four years, the group had a Board of directors|Board of Directors and had joined the Ontario Federation of Symphony Orchestras as the 25th symphony orchestra of the province.
In the mid-1970s, several important steps were taken by the growing Orchestra and the group emerged stronger than ever. It was renamed the Sault Ste. Marie International Association, to reflect the increasing presence of players from both sides of the border. At a later date the official name of the organization was changed to Sault Symphony Association. A partnership with the Sudbury Symphony developed. There were several joint concerts and the semi-regular participation of musicians from one orchestra to the other. Dr. John Wilkinson was appointed Music Director and Conductor in December, 1977, and still serves in this capacity today.
The Sault Symphony Orchestra continues to work at providing varied and exciting programs, often with internationally recognized soloists. Its continued existence is a tribute to the hard work of Board members, volunteers, musicians, and the support of its audiences.