Monte Perkins was appointed Artistic Director and Conductor of the Milwaukee Civic Symphony Orchestra (now Festival City Symphony) in 1990 after five seasons as Associate Conductor. He handles all of the orchestra’s programming for its concert series and special events. Under his leadership, the orchestra in 1992 received an Award of Merit from the National Federation of Music Clubs for promoting and performing American music. He has conducted performances for Music Under the Stars and the Pillow Pops Series. In the summers of 1992, 1993, and 1994 he organized and conducted concerts in the parks for Milwaukee County.
Mr. Perkins received his B.F.A. degree from UWMilwaukee and his M.M. from the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. He retired from the faculty at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin after 26 years teaching bassoon and chamber music and currently serves as principal bassoonist for the Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra.
Monte was the recipient of the Civic Music Association’s “Distinguished Citizen Professional In the Arts” award on October 16, 2013.
Monte has announced that he will retire as Music Director and Conductor of the Symphony Sundays concerts after the current season concludes on May 7, 2017.
Carter Simmons has been hired to replace retiring Monte Perkins as Music Director and Conductor for the organization’s Symphony Sunday concerts at the Pabst Theater. Simmons will remain the Artistic and Music Director of the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO), where he has served the community for nearly 25 years. He will take over his new position with the Festival City Symphony Orchestra following its season finale Sunday concert on May 7, 2017. Monte Perkins will continue to conduct the popular Pajama Jamboree series.
In making the announcement, Festival City Symphony Chairman and CEO Franklyn Esenberg said that Simmons personifies the excellence that has been the trademark of the Festival City Symphony Sunday concerts. “Carter Simmons brings a long background of classical music knowledge that will help our orchestra maintain the high standards that it has demonstrated as Wisconsin’s oldest continuously performing symphony orchestra since its founding over 80 years ago. We are honored to have him as our new Music Director and the Conductor of our Symphony Sunday concerts.”
As Artistic Director, Simmons currently leads an artistic staff of 50 music educators and professional teaching artists. In his position as Music Director , he conducts MYSO’s Metropolitan Symphony and Chamber Orchestra. Throughout his tenure, MYSO has grown to serve 1,000 musicians from more than 215 schools, 60 communities and 14 counties throughout Southeastern WI and northern IL. In addition , MYSO was awarded a 2015 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. This is the nation’s highest honor for after school arts and humanities programming. He holds degrees in horn and vocal performance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Master’s degree conducting from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Simmons has also conducted artists from the Florentine Opera, as well as guest conducted for the Wisconsin Philharmonic, the Racine Symphony Orchestra, the Kenosha Symphony Orchestra, the Starry Nights Orchestra, and had worked with the Festival City Symphony in the past . He also has conducted with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and is a member of its Education and Community Engagement Committee and served as a guest conductor across the country.