Community Impact

A professional symphony enhances the quality of life in a community by increasing vitality, providing a sense of belonging, and creating unity. The Kenosha area enjoys these benefits by having the KSO serve as a pillar of the community for nearly 80 years. Since 1940, the KSO has been a cultural cornerstone of southeastern Wisconsin, and has entertained and educated thousands of music enthusiasts and local school children. Since its inception, the orchestra has grown in number and skill through the high standards of its music directors, as well as the management offered by its organizational unit, the Kenosha Symphony Association, Inc (KSA).

From its inception the Kenosha Symphony Orchestra has been a part of the Kenosha community, being founded in 1940 as a cultural extension of the Kenosha Department of Parks and Recreation and as a resource for the school district. Though we are no longer governed by that department, we continue to serve the Kenosha Unified School District, including Youth Concerts offered each year without cost to the fifth-graders. Many fifth-graders have reported that these have been the only symphony concerts they have personally experienced, and they were “blown away,” with many motivated to take up music instruments.

Concerto competitions have been held annually, with monetary awards being offered to winners, as well as the opportunity to perform in concerts with the orchestra. These competitions have been expanded to include a college division, in addition to the high school division.

In recent years the KSO has offered free admission to students. It has also developed closer ties with two area colleges: the University of Wisconsin – Parkside and Carthage College. Student music groups have been invited to participate in select concerts, and at times concerts are held at these colleges. Area high school music groups also participate in concerts at certain times.

Such involvement with the local school district and colleges enhances both our ties to the community and the educational aspect of our mission. School district music faculty and students have played as members of the orchestra, and the KSO office engages students in internships and as ushers. The orchestra also has a partnership with the Kenosha Chamber Choir (formerly the Kenosha Choral Arts Society), and has included this vocal choir in certain concerts — sometimes alongside of student choirs participating. The KSO has at times been a member of The Association of Wisconsin Symphony Orchestras, the Kenosha Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Kenosha Area Business Alliance. We appreciate the support of our city and area businesses, and look forward to continued partnering with the community and local schools.

As the only professional symphony orchestra in Kenosha, the KSO provides cultural enrichment through concerts featuring internationally acclaimed soloists, rising young stars, as well as local artists and school choirs and groups. In 1964, the KSO began holding its annual Youth Auditions for local high school and college music students, which awards scholarships to the winners. Later, the overall winner received the added opportunity of performing a concerto with the KSO at the Annual Youth Concert. The KSO’s goals include exposure to arts for students that might not otherwise have the opportunities, and our assessment includes quantitative data (number of students impacted) as well as quantitative data (feedback from both teachers and students).

The KSO has been presenting its free Annual Youth Concerts for all Kenosha County 5th graders for over 30 years. These concerts expose the children to an exciting performance that enriches, broadens and deepens their love and appreciation for music and hopefully leaves within them an everlasting interest in the fine arts. We believe that by bringing this rich experience to the young, we are providing motivational and mentoring opportunities for music students in schools throughout the area; motivational to many who are already playing an instrument and inspirational for those who have not taken that challenge. In addition, by witnessing the symphony in action, they learn first-hand the importance of teamwork and cooperation, and bear witness to the connection between hard work and high achievement. Not only does the KSO utilize their venue (Reuther Auditorium) to host concerts, but symphony musicians perform for corporate functions to reach out even further into the community.