The South Bend Youth Symphony Orchestras were founded as a joint venture between Robert Demaree, Dean of IUSB’s School of the Arts; Kenneth Geoffroy, Fine Arts Coordinator of the South Bend Community School Corporation; and Rocco Germano, also of the SBCSC, in 1968. Mr. Germano was the very first conductor of the SBYSO. The program began with just one orchestra, and expanded to two in the late 1990s.
In the late 1960s, the schools were teaching strings and winds separately in an effort to give students a strong foundation. The Mission of the SBYSO was to complement these programs by also providing students the opportunity to work together in a full orchestra from early on in their musical education. In fact, in order to continue fulfilling this mission and our responsibility to support our area music programs, to this day we require that all SBYSO students participate in their school program, unless circumstances prohibit their involvement, or one does not exist.
The South Bend Youth Symphony Orchestras have found our home at the Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts at Indiana University South Bend since our inception in 1968. We hold three concerts at IUSB annually, in fall, winter and spring. We are very fortunate and grateful to have the support of Dr. Marvin Curtis, Dean, and this world-class institution.
Over the years, the SBYSO has grown to include students from the surrounding area. We are now comprised of students from as far south as Culver, as far west as La Porte, north to Edwardsburg and east to Goshen. If a student is willing to drive to South Bend, we are happy to hear them audition!
The music directors and conductors of youth orchestras lead the charge in satisfying goals and missions. Our history since is full of inspiring and talented professionals from our community and beyond. Each has made his or her mark on the SBYSO, shaping our orchestras into what they are today. We would like to thank all of our music directors and conductors throughout out history for sharing their talents, time and expertise with our SBYSO students; Rocco Germano, Grayling Hawkins, Chung Park, John Graulty, Jeffrey Meyer David Ford, James Keranen, Pete Collins and our current conductors, Dr. Robert Boardman and Emilie Grondin.