Building Community Through Music
Your Oshkosh Symphony
Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra is a non-profit organization. OSO's model welcomes members of the community to perform in the orchestra. Side-by-side, adult community musicians perform with area professionals, deepening that which connects us. Dedicated toward serving music education, OSO has partnered with University of Wisconsin Oshkosh to offer mentorship and practical training to college performers and other students who wish to serve and work in the local economy.
The mission of the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra is to build community through music in order to engage, educate, and enrich the lives of those living in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and beyond.
The vision of the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra is a culturally rich city of
Oshkosh where music is part of community members' daily lives.
The genesis of the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra began with Harold W. Arentsen, who came to Oshkosh from Minnesota in 1941 as Supervisor of Music in the Oshkosh Public Schools. The Symphony first took the name Oshkosh Civic Symphony and had 30-40 orchestral members. With the growth of the orchestra to 80 players, concerts were moved to The Grand Theater and then took home in the Alberta Kimball Auditorium. Maestro Arentsen retired in 1967 after a tenure of 26 years and the baton was passed to Henri B. Pensis in 1968. In that same year the orchestra changed its name to the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra. During Pensis's tenure the Symphony commissioned and recorded world premieres by two notable composers, Virgil Thompson and Lukas Foss, and performed with world renowned artists such as opera star Robert Merrill and violinist Isaac Stern.
Following in the footsteps of Arentsen and Pensis were Maestros Jun Wang in 1997, Dr. William LaRue Jones in 2003, Dr. Jeffrey Meyer in 2008, Andre Gaskins in 2011, and Daniel Black in 2013. Dr. Dylan T. Chmura-Moore was appointed Music Director in 2023 and is leading the OSO forward in its new civic model, one based on that which made the orchestra such a success decades ago. About the new model, Dylan says: “Community makes us strong. It makes for better music. OSO will, once again, lean into this ideal and I couldn’t be more excited. People make music, and it rings more true when your neighbor, whom you trust and love, is the one who is making it for you or with you. That is the beauty of what OSO will be. The return to this model should help our community listen to each other better and show each other more support and empathy. And the music’s going to be phenomenal!”