Mission & History

The Salina Symphony is a regional orchestra dedicated to enriching lives through artistic music performance and education. As one of the premiere musical ensembles of North Central Kansas, the Symphony performs five subscription concerts per season as well as an annual family concert and a patriotic summer concert.

Eric Stein founded the Salina Chamber Orchestra in 1955, and its first performance was held in 1956. The orchestra was affiliated with Marymount College in 1965 and was named the Salina Civic Orchestra Society. In the 1980’s, the orchestra became known as the Salina Symphony and briefly played at the Municipal Auditorium before moving to Kansas Wesleyan University, where it was housed for more than a decade. In 2003, the Symphony had the unique and exciting opportunity to move into the newly renovated Stiefel Theatre for the Performing Arts. Ken Hakoda was named music director and conductor in 2004, and ticket sales have flourished under his talented direction.

Now in its seventh decade, the Salina Symphony continues to present a wide array of concerts in the beautifully renovated Stiefel Theatre while retaining its unique community-centered feel. The orchestra is a cordial mix of volunteer and paid musicians, some of whom have played with the Symphony for decades. A variety of soloists are featured each season, ranging from orchestra members to regional and internationally-acclaimed artists.

Under Hakoda’s direction, the Symphony has become known for finding ways to break out of the traditional symphony concert “box” while still maintaining the integrity of the music. While not immune from the challenges currently facing the arts world, and orchestras in particular, the Symphony’s performance standards have continued to excel and grow. Generous support from community individuals and businesses helps to ensure the Symphony’s tradition of excellence.

The Symphony’s Youth Education Program serves more than 200 students from elementary through high school. Founded by Mr. Stein in 1961, the Youth Symphony Program has grown from one orchestra to three, involving approximately 160 students from over 30 different local/area schools. The Youth Symphony, Junior Youth Symphony and Preparatory Orchestra perform two concerts each season in the Stiefel Theatre. The Salina Symphony Youth Choir was added to the program in 2014, and performs three concerts per season.