South Bend Symphony Orchestra

127 North Michigan Street
South Bend, IN 46601



As Michiana’s premiere professional orchestra, the South Bend Symphony engages the community in the exploration of orchestral music in all its forms.


To broaden the personal experiences of a diverse audience


The South Bend Symphony Orchestra began in 1932 as an all-volunteer organization. Now in its 83rd season, it has become a well-recognized, professional Midwestern orchestra and is well on its way to being “South Bend’s” orchestra.

A local string ensemble conceived the noble idea for the South Bend Civic Orchestra in the early 1930s. Its instructor, Edwyn H. Hames, nurtured this small and growing bank of musicians as the first music director, a position he held for 40 years. Hames’ tenure is considered one of the longest in American Symphony Orchestra history. 

In 1975 Herbert Butler took up the baton as Music Director/Conductor for a period of eight years. This was a time of tremendous growth in artistic performance, attendance and visibility in the community and surrounding area. Music education programs were added. Between 1973 and 1983, as the orchestra grew in stature, its budget did as well, up to f $100,000 annually. Tragically, Mr. Butler, a resident of Kalamazoo, Michigan, was killed in a bizarre auto accident on his way home from a rehearsal. The baton was then passed to Kenneth Keisler who established a “core” of musicians and principal players, who were competitive on a national level.

Currently in his final season at the South Bend podium, Maestro Yeh has helped to build the SBSO into one of the finest regional orchestras in the central United States. He has an enormous following both here and abroad and has overseen great growth, with many changes in the structure of the orchestra, which now boasts 75-80 contract musicians.

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