About FCS

Festival City Symphony has been an important member of the Milwaukee-area arts community for nearly 100 years. Formerly known as the Milwaukee Civic Symphony Orchestra, Festival City Symphony is Milwaukee’s oldest performing symphony orchestra. Its mission is to extend the reach of classical music in the Milwaukee-area community by presenting free and affordable concerts in formats that embrace people of all ages.

In 1993, the Civic Music Association and the Milwaukee Civic Symphony Orchestra mutually agreed the orchestra should reorganize as a separate nonprofit organization. Under its new name, Festival City Symphony, the orchestra performed its premier concert on February 27, 1994, in the historic Pabst Theater.

Striving to attract new audiences to live classical music performances, the orchestra’s collaborative programs often incorporate local arts or educational organizations, Milwaukee-based performers and artists, and children’s performing groups. Composed of professional musicians from around the Milwaukee area, FCS member musicians serve as instructors in many of Milwaukee’s universities, public and private schools, and private lesson studios.

Festival City SymphonySponsors

Festival City Symphony is extremely grateful for the generosity of these sponsors:

Friends of FCS:

Giving Back to the Community

Festival City Symphony is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that supports the community and nurtures music education and appreciation. FCS provides access to high-quality classical music to all through our free and low-cost Pajama Jamboree and Saturday Classics concert series. During the season, FCS collects nonperishable food donations for Milwaukee’s Hunger Task Force.  In addition, FCS works closely with youth and community organizations including the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, Girl Scouts of Southeastern Wisconsin, Milwaukee Public Library, and HOPE Network.

Our Music Director

Festival City SymphonyFestival City Symphony Music Director, Carter Simmons, is a long-time member of Milwaukee’s close-knit arts community.  The well-known Artistic Director of the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO) has served for 25 years with the organization that has nurtured, challenged, and inspired young people since 1956. During his association with MYSO, the organization has grown to serve 6,000 students and received recognition as an awardee of the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the nation’s highest honor for out-of-school arts and humanities programs.

Mr. Simmons has been invited to work with the Milwaukee Ballet, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Starry Nights Orchestra featuring artists of Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera, and the Wisconsin Philharmonic among other orchestras. He has conducted the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra throughout China, most notably in Beijing’s Forbidden City Concert Hall, and also in Orchestra Hall in Chicago’s Symphony Center. He has also accompanied the orchestra for its performances in New York’s Carnegie Hall, Valencia’s Palau de la Música, Prague’s Dvořák Hall, Budapest’s Béla Bartók National Concert Hall, in Argentina and Uruguay, and the Musikverein, home of the Vienna Philharmonic.

Festival City Symphony Board of Directors

Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer: Franklyn Esenberg, Retired President and CEO of Interstate Forging Industries

Vice Chairperson and Assistant Financial Officer: Charlane O’Rourke-Hertig, Nonprofit Theater Executive, Arts Advocate

Secretary/Treasurer: Denise Wahlberg, Retired Closed Captioner, Wahlberg Reporting, Inc.

Director: Patricia Ellis, Interim Director of Equity, Access, and Inclusion, Milwaukee Public Schools

Director: Sharie Garcia, Music Curriculum Specialist, Milwaukee Public Schools

Director: Bethany Perkins, Vice President of Marketing, 7Summits, Inc.

Festival City Symphony Staff

Music Director: Carter Simmons

Music Director Emeritus: Monte Perkins

Operations Director: Brandon Yahn

Personnel Manager: Kathryn Krubsack

Children’s Program Notes Host: Lynn Roginske

Librarian: Julie Bamberger Roubik

Assistant Librarian: Robert Kriefall

Assistant Librarian: Martha Kriefall

Performance Recordings

Image Gallery