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Musicians performing in a winter concert

Who We Are

South Kansas Symphony, Inc. 

The South Kansas Symphony strives to provide musical memories for our audience with a variety of music for all ages. Talented musicians drawn from the collegiate and public communities enrich the ensemble. The symphony performs on the Callison Stage in the acoustically-crafted Richardson Performing Arts Center at Southwestern College. While many of our musicians come from the local Winfield area, several join us from the greater Wichita area and the South Central Kansas region.

The symphony is governed by a nine-member board of directors made up of symphony musicians and community supporters. 

John Baker, President  |  Rae Lynne Baker, Vice President  |  Madeline Norland, Treasurer

Ashton Humbert, Secretary  |  Kylie Stamper, Marketing/PR  |  Michael Harvey  |  Carina Givens  |  Charles McKinzie

Dr. Michael Christensen, SKS conductor

Dr. Michael Christensen


What We Do

The SKS Mission

South Kansas Symphony, Inc. is proud to be entering into a new chapter, navigating the twists & turns of today's cultural climate. In upholding our commitment to the current and future generations of music lovers, we ask you to join us in making our mission a priority in everything we do. 

Our top goal is to bring live symphonic performances of classical and a variety of orchestral music to the Winfield and South Central Kansas area while encouraging and supporting the music education of youth and providing playing opportunities for them and community musicians with an interest in continuing and enhancing Winfield’s rich musical heritage. 

Past, Present, & Future

History of the Symphony

1899  |  The Winfield College of Music opened.

1912  |  Louis Gordon became the Supervisor of Music for both Southwestern College and the Winfield College of Music. Edgar Gordon, Louis’s son, became the Director of Music in the Winfield schools. Shortly after, the Winfield Orchestral Club was formed, which was a symphony orchestra made up of school children, local amateur musicians, and music students from Southwestern College and the Winfield College of Music.

1915  |  The governor offered a $1,000 prize to a Kansas community judged to be the best place to raise children. Winfield was awarded the prize because of the “unusual manner in which the fine arts, particularly music, had been integrated into the community.”

1924  |  Southwestern College took over the operations of the Winfield College of Music, and many of its faculty became Southwestern College instructors. 

1926  |  The Winfield Oratorio Society was founded by H. Hugh Altvater, Dean of Southwestern College's School of Fine Arts and the first presentation of Mendelssohn’s Elijah was given in March of that year. The annual performance was continued until 1939 when financial problems and WWII forced its discontinuance.

1947  |  Professor Ross O. Williams of Southwestern College revived the oratorio. It was composed of students from both Southwestern College and St. John’s College, singers from most church choirs in the city, and an orchestra composed of students from Southwestern College, Winfield High School, and adult musicians from the area. Professor Williams directed the annual oratorio for 42 years. In 1984, the entire cast of the oratorio traveled to Israel. 

1980s  |  Larry Williams took over direction of the ensemble in the early 1980s, followed by Dave Nichols in the early 90s.

1990s  |  The ensemble became known as the Winfield Regional Symphony in 1991. During this time, the symphony began operating as an extension of the Southwestern College Performing Arts Department. Gary Gackstatter directed the symphony from the early 90s until 2007.

2000  |  The first performance of PrairieFest, a symphonic/dance/narrated production by Winfield and Arkansas City performing artists on the prairie, which in turn inspired the creation of Symphony in the Flint Hills – an annual celebration of music and the beauty of the Flint Hills of Kansas, sponsored by numerous corporations around the state. The ensemble began performing under its current name, South Kansas Symphony, in the early-mid 2000s.

2005  |  The Southwestern College Youth Symphony was established, as was the Southwestern College Williams String Quartet. The Southwestern College Youth Symphony then morphed into the SC Pre-College String Ensembles, before being dissolved in 2023.

2006  |  Dr. Daniel Stevens became the Associate Professor of Music and Director of Instrumental Activities at Southwestern College, directing the South Kansas Symphony until 2014.

2007  |  An annual solo competition was established for Southwestern College students. This soon was extended to music students from high schools and colleges of the area, developing both senior and junior divisions by which the winners of the competition were presented in concert with the South Kansas Symphony during the spring semester.

2011  |  Renovation of Southwestern College's Richardson Performing Arts Center was completed with an upgrade in acoustics, seating, lighting, and sound technology. The newly-renovated Callison Stage in the performing arts center serves as the symphony's home stage to this day.

2014  |  Dr. Amber Peterson joined the Southwestern College staff as Associate Professor of Music and Kilmer Endowed Chair of Strings Education. She directed the symphony until spring 2023.

2022  |  Southwestern College announced the elimination of eight majors and two minors, along with several faculty positions. With this change, Dr. Peterson's position was eliminated and several music performance or music education students (who also played in the symphony) transferred to other colleges to complete their degrees. The SKS Advisory Board voted to incorporate as a non-profit governed by a working board of directors.  

2023  |  With generous support from the community and Southwestern College, the symphony became an independent entity. It received IRS classification as a not-for-profit entity and unveiled new branding. The college committed to supporting the symphony through funding, student/staff support, and continued use of facilities and music resources.  Dr. Michael Christensen became the first conductor contracted with South Kansas Symphony, Inc. leading into its 2023 - 2024 season

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