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The mission of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra is: “To celebrate the tradition of live orchestral music and enrich the lives of people throughout our region.” The SDSO accomplishes this through classical and pops concerts at its home of the Washington Pavilion, touring throughout South Dakota, and chamber music in area churches. A breadth of education programs reach over 15,000 preschool through high school students annually, and award-winning community engagement programs connect to audiences from throughout the region. The South Dakota Symphony Orchestra is grounded in five core values: Community Engagement, Creating Partnerships, Lifelong Impact, Educational Opportunities, and Live Symphonic Music.
The South Dakota Symphony Orchestra (SDSO) will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2022 as a community and state-wide arts leader and collaborator. The orchestra was formed in 1922 in conjunction with Augustana University, incorporated in November of 1965 as the Sioux Falls Symphony, and declared the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra in 1985 by proclamation of then Governor William Janklow. In 1978, the Dakota String Quartet was formed which established the SDSO’s first full-time, salaried orchestra musicians. Five more core musicians were added in 1982 with the establishment of the Dakota Wind Quintet. Music Director Delta David Gier has led the SDSO since 2004 and has taken the orchestra to unprecedented artistic levels and established the renowned community engagement programs the SDSO is known for today.
SDSO education programs serve students in Sioux Falls and across the state through Young People’s Concerts, in-school performances throughout the region, master classes, Tunes and Tales, Composition Academies and the South Dakota Symphony Youth Orchestra.
The SDSO’s award-winning Lakota Music Project has been recognized by the League of American Orchestras as a national model of cultural understanding and reconciliation through classical music and is the flagship community engagement program of the SDSO. With the Lakota Music Project as a foundation, the SDSO has fostered additional programs with the intention of celebrating cultural similarities and embracing classical music as a medium for collaboration. These performances have featured Iranian, Persian, and Indian composers with the hope of assisting to build cultural bridges, hence the program’s name, Bridging Cultures.
The South Dakota Symphony Orchestra formed a partnership with the two prominent Sioux Falls health institutions, Avera Health and Sanford Health, to promote healing through music in a program called Music as Medicine. This program now includes a “Memoirs” component which features a storyteller who retells a unique story from an individual’s life set to music. A recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Creativity Connects grant, Music as Medicine is now expanding into additional assisted living communities in Sioux Falls.