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A Welcome to the 2022-2023 Season from Music Director Carter Simmons

Music Director Carter Simmons and Assistant Concertmaster Pamela Simmons in front of the Bradley Symphony Center

The musicians of the Festival City Symphony are excited to welcome you and your family to our season!  A special welcome to those of you who are just getting to know us, and a big thank you to all of you who are returning to see what’s in store! 


For over a century, this orchestra has added its important voice to the fabric of Milwaukee and has delighted the community to whom we devote our passion and expertise. The orchestra is comprised of expert musicians, many of whom grew up right here and who love giving the gift of music to others through excellent concerts and thought-provoking programs. The musicians perform on all the stages throughout the region, and many perform with institutions such as the Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra, the region’s orchestras, The Rep, Bel Canto, Skylight Music Theater, Broadway musicals, and our beloved Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.  In addition, many of us teach younger players in our universities, through the school systems, and in the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra.


Join us this season as we perform seven concerts. Three of these concerts are our Pajama Jamborees held at the Marcus Performing Arts Center, which are a perfect opportunity to share orchestral music with your littles for the very first time. Our other four concerts will be our Saturday Classics performances held downtown in the beautiful Bradley Symphony Center. Each of our concerts are thoughtfully programmed so we can all enjoy music together, live and in-person.


We will begin our season this September with a Pajama Jamboree concert for our youngest concert-goers and families in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month. Come enjoy a narrated program of music from the best Spanish, Mexican, South American, and Caribbean composers who have ever lived.  Next, we will premiere our Saturday Classics series in November, featuring German and American master composers such as Johannes Brahms, Richard Strauss, and Florence Price, the first prominent African American woman composer. 


Then comes everyone’s favorite festive season of giving and light, during which we always enjoy performing our free Holiday Pajama Jamboree. Just after the New Year, we are thrilled to welcome our friend, concert pianist Jeannie Yu for a performance of Beethoven’s radiant Second Concerto on a Saturday Classics program that includes his famous Seventh Symphony— both of which you will want to hear.  In March, the orchestra will again welcome our young friends from the Girl Scouts for a concert of music from Italy and France as Milwaukee waits for spring to arrive. This concert will showcase the grand Italian composers— Giuseppe Verdi, Pietro Mascagni, and Ottorino Respighi— who will delight just before the enchanting music of L’Arlesienne by Georges Bizet. 


Our season will close with two spring programs. First is our April Saturday Classics concert, with ballet music by Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian and Frenchman Francis Poulenc that each present a lush palette of sounds to accompany their two very different dance works, which we will play before closing the concert with what is referred to as Czech composer Antonin Dvořák’s finest symphony— the Seventh in d minor. Then, just before school begins to wind down, we will perform our final concert of the season, which will be for all who are young at heart and who enjoy a good pops concert. The orchestra will love performing the music of John Williams, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Rossini, as well as giving the children a chance to conduct John Philip Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever! We are proud to play both our Star Spangled Banner and Rosamond and James Johnson’s Lift Every Voice and Sing as we honor all who love our community.


The musicians of the Festival City Symphony thank you for considering attending our concerts and look forward to sharing our gifts and music with you. See you soon!



Carter Simmons

Music Director