The Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra ended the 2008-2009 season with its Tchaikovsky Spectacular, featuring a laser light show and special performances from 20 year-old YouYou Zhang on piano and the 2008 Young Musician of the Year, 15 year-old Michael Li. The familiar music, special effects, and young performers brought out a youthful vibe and it was a decidedly un-stodgy affair from an institution not known for bringing out the kids. With a young marketing director and several young conductors up for the position of musical director/conductor, that may be the future for the SBSO.

Though the first show isn't until October, the organization is already hard at work preparing for the new season. This year's fundraiser, dubbed Maestros and Martinis, was held at The Mixx nightclub in Old Town. The event raised money for the symphony via ticket sales as well as silent and live auctions. Attendees were treated to snacks from Fralia's, Pasongs, The Metro Grille, and other local restaurants and high bidders walked away with prizes ranging from autographed sports memorabilia to a mural by a local artist to a private party at The Mixx.

The SBSO's next task is to find a new musical director and conductor to replace Patrick Flynn, who unexpectedly passed away in September 2008. This past season, audiences saw Andre Raphael Smith, Darryl One, and Milen Nachev try out the spot. The upcoming season's candidates will be Stephen Jarvis of the Kansas City Symphony, Piotr Gajewski of The National Philharmonic in Bethesda, Maryland, and Brett Mitchell of the Houston Symphony. Mitchell is, notably, the youngest of the bunch and has a considerable web presence via Facebook, Twitter, and his personal blog. Appointment of a musical director is an important decision for the symphony, as he or she will be the person in charge of maintaining the orchestra as well participating with community outreach activities, including youth programs like Saginaw Bay Youth Orchestra. The musical director and conductor is often the face of the symphony, and the public's opinion on these candidates is of considerable importance and extra incentive to see the concerts. The 2009-2010 season is one of new beginnings and has been dubbed The Season of Opportunity, what better time to discover the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra.

The SBSO website offers season ticket packages in a variety of price ranges and Individual balcony tickets sell for as low $10 at most shows (with even lower student rates), which means for about the same price as a night at the movies, you can have a night of culture in downtown. The SBSO also takes contributions from community members. These contributions, along with ticket sales, pay for the use of the Temple Theater, musician compensation, and other costs. Contribution levels, like ticket prices, come in various price ranges.

For more information on the upcoming season, tickets, artists, or the history of the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra, visit their Website at

© Christi Griffis, 2009