Over 65 years the International Symphony Orchestra has grown into an enduring performance & educational resource between London ON and Detroit MI, both the strongest regional orchestra and the longest-serving cross border orchestra on the continent. We operate from the ISObar, a performance space, videography centre, art gallery and administrative office for the symphony, and we perform in several venues in Canada and Michigan.
Look inside every first-class community and you’ll find a strong cultural base. The renewed growth of the Chemical Valley and local business is concurrent with Sarnia’s excellent regional theatre and the ISO entering its 65th cross-border concert season. The pandemic survival of cultural agencies can only strengthen local businesses.
Studies consistently show that a city’s cultural atmosphere is a deciding factor when would-be residents consider relocation – this is true for everyone from youthful talent to older professionals looking to cash out of big cities and search for livable SW Ontario communities.
Over 5,000 young people in Canada and Michigan saw the orchestra perform in the pre-pandemic season. Lambton-Kent students form a volunteer base to assist with ISO concerts. And in 2022 we launched El Sistema, a free youth string education program across the county and extending to First Nations communities.
Ticketing revenue accounts for less than a third of the costs to stage a concert series. The rest must come from private donations and grants, and since our goals include both a more professional orchestra and lower ticket prices for a more inclusive community musical experience, we can’t evolve without donors.
As regional orchestras folded due to identity crises brought on largely by shifting demographics, the ISO has extended its reach through a strong social media presence and a willingness to program new forms of music. This drive forward has attracted the strongest musicians between London and Detroit. Your contribution supports our continuing modernization.
Before the pandemic forced the cancellation of two concert series, the ISO sold out consecutive concerts on the Sarnia side. The ISObar, our intimate performance space in downtown Sarnia, has resumed First Friday licensed events pairing singer-songwriters with ISO strings. The orchestra is slated to perform at the 2023 Canada Day fireworks celebration at the Centennial Park Agora, and is
planning a special “SkySO” performance & fundraiser later that month at a Sarnia airport hangar.