Thomas Fortner Selected as Music Director of the SDSYO

Thomas Fortner Selected as Music Director of the SDSYOThe South Dakota Symphony Orchestra (SDSO) announces Thomas Fortner as the South Dakota Symphony Youth Orchestra (SDSYO) Music Director and Assistant Conductor for the SDSO beginning in the 2017-18 season. Fortner will oversee artistic development and lead rehearsals and performances for various groups within the South Dakota Symphony Youth Orchestra, and will work with the SDSO in multiple creative capacities, including concerts, education, touring, and community engagement.

"I am thrilled to be joining an innovative organization that continues to push the envelope for American orchestras, and to be a part of the continued growth of a vibrant Youth Orchestra program, working with the next generation of musicians and music lovers," said Fortner. "I am eager to become a new member of the wonderful community of Sioux Falls!"

Music Director of the SDSO, Delta David Gier, expressed excitement over Fortner joining the organization. "The process of auditioning 70 applicants was extensive - we were looking for a very broad skill set, from working with small children to conducting professional musicians. Mr. Fortner showed himself clearly to be the right person for the job, and as an innovative thinker he will have much to offer towards the continuing growth of this dynamic organization."

About Thomas Fortner

A Texas native, conductor and cellist Thomas Fortner recently completed his Graduate Performance Degree in conducting from the distinguished Peabody Conservatory, and while in Baltimore he was Assistant Conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestra. As the Founder and Artistic Director of the Iowa Great Lakes Music Festival, he partnered with local performing arts presenters to bring world class musical performances to the Iowa Great Lakes region.

In 2016, Fortner was the assistant conductor for the Martha Graham Dance Company at the Library of Congress during their revival of the original ballet to Copland's Appalachian Spring. He also served as a cover conductor for the Concert Artists of Baltimore. As a committed educator, Fortner has taught for the Baltimore Symphony "OrchKids" and the Bridges Academy programs, which provide at risk youth with free music lessons.

During his studies, Fortner served as a Graduate Assistant Conductor where he led concerts of the Peabody Symphony and Conductors Orchestra during their 2016-17 season. Additionally, Fortner completed a Bachelors and Masters Degree of cello performance at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. A native of Houston, Texas, Fortner has performed chamber music alongside musicians from orchestras such as the Houston Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, and the Minnesota Orchestra.

About the South Dakota Symphony Youth Orchestra

The South Dakota Symphony Youth Orchestra (SDSYO) is an educational program comprised of four student orchestras, ranging from a beginner string orchestra to an advanced symphonic orchestra. Members of the SDSYO are given the tools and training to pursue their artistic passions. The SDSYO concerts allow students to showcase their talents and perform in a professional environment.

The SDSYO is designed to enhance young musicians' talents in an inspiring and educational group setting. Through participation, students build leadership skills, develop musical talents, and create lasting friendships. The SDSYO encourages these students to enjoy a life of active engagement in the arts.

About the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra

The South Dakota Symphony Orchestra (SDSO) is based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a vibrant and growing community serving a 125-mile region that touches 5 states. Known for innovative programming and statewide outreach, the SDSO has a strong heritage upon which to build an even stronger future. SDSO was the 2016 winner of the Bush Prize for Community Innovation. The Bush Prize recognizes organizations for their innovative work in community engagement. In addition, the SDSO was selected as 1 of 5 orchestras in the country to participate in a three-year composer residency through New Music USA which brings American Indian composer Jerod Tate to the SDSO through 2019. The SDSO is the region's premiere performing arts organization with the Washington Pavilion as its home. Artistically, the SDSO is led by Maestro Delta David Gier who has guided the orchestra to new musical heights. The core of the SDSO is comprised of 9 full-time professional musicians that make up the Dakota String Quartet and the Dakota Wind Quintet. Musically, the SDSO performs well above its $2.3 million budget.

For more information on the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, please visit

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