International Symphony Orchestra History

The International Symphony Orchestra was formed in 1957 as a result of the amalgamation of the Port Huron String Ensemble (Michigan) and the Little Orchestra Society of Sarnia. Both communities realized they were too small to establish and support separate orchestras, but believed that a collaboration might work. Indeed it did, and so began the rich international co-operative venture that continues to this day.

From a humble inception of only two concerts a year, the orchestra’s activities have evolved to the present season, which includes a total of twelve Series performances, several Cushion Concerts, Chamber Presentations, youth education concerts, and a number of community events.

The International Symphony Singers were added in 1984 to facilitate the inclusion of oratorio, opera, Broadway and musical theatre into the orchestra’s programming options. Since that time, the Symphony Singers have added a new texture to the organization, taking part in several concerts each season. They are under the direction of Dr. David Troiano, who resides in St. Clair Shores.

The International Symphony Orchestra sponsors youth string ensembles, and have expanded our youth initiatives to include the International Youth Choir (presently in recess). We present several free full orchestra youth performances annually, enjoyed by over 2,000 young people.   Our “Music Makes Sound Sense” initiative; which places professional ensembles into the schools, is enjoyed each year by over 3,000 children.  ISO musicians also provide most of the string and wind teaching available in our bridged communities.

The International Symphony Orchestra continues to strive for artistic excellence. To this end, we engage professional musicians to play in the orchestra, to work with amateur musicians, and to act as a musical resource within the community. A two-year conductor search, resulting from the retirement of long-standing Music Director, Jerome Summers, has concluded with the appointment of Canadian/American Conductor, Douglas Bianchi. Maestro Bianchi comes to the ISO with significant orchestral experience, in addition to his responsibilities as an Associate Music Professor at Wayne State University, in Detroit.

The Symphony’s budget is in excess of three hundred thousand dollars a year, most of which must be raised within our two small cities, as we receive very little funding from state or provincial sources. Many individuals on each side of the border work very hard to ensure the successful continuation of this important cultural tradition; realizing that music contributes greatly to the spiritual, emotional, and cultural well being of our entire community. We are pleased to note that we operate “in the black” and our Endowment Fund continues to grow.

The success of the International Symphony Orchestra is directly due to the donation of thousands of hours by volunteer associations, musicians, singers, and Board members.   A unified vision is essential, and with the combined elements of commitment of time, enthusiasm, and dedication, we no doubt will remain fiscally and artistically sound.

Music has been described as the universal language and the true connector of all people.

The International Symphony Orchestra agrees.