The International Symphony Orchestra of Sarnia, Ontario and Port Huron, Michigan began in 1957. The Little Orchestra Society of Sarnia and the Port Huron String Ensemble came together and formed the Orchestra. Currently, the Orchestra is a non-profit organization and consists of around fifty-five musicians who are from both sides of the border between the United States and Canada. Many work full-time in the music profession. Other members are engineers, teachers, doctors, nurses, and homemakers, but all are well trained musicians. From 1997 - 2011, the Orchestra's music director had been acclaimed Canadian conductor Jerome Summers. After an extensive search lasting nearly two years, the Orchestra selected Douglas Bianchi of Wayne State University in 2012 as its new Music Director. The Orchestra performs at various venues and churches in the area throughout each season, including the Imperial Oil Center for the Performing Arts in Sarnia and at the McMorran Theater in Port Huron.
In 1984, the Symphony Singers joined forces with the Orchestra, and this auditioned chorus remains with the group today. The Symphony also sponsors a Youth Orchestra. Two auxiliary groups also support the organization, the Symphony Association of the Port Huron Area, and the International Symphony Association, and the group also receives support from the Port Huron Musicale and various sponsors and supporters, both private and commercial.
Many internationally recognized performers have collaborated with the International Symphony Orchestra in past years. Chief among these is Canadian pianist Robert Silverman, who performed Beethoven's Piano Concerto #5 (The Emperor) with the group in 2007. Young prodigy Caroline Goulding has performed numerous times as featured soloist. American Gershwin specialist Kevin Cole graced the stage in April, 2011. Former lead dancer with Riverdance Nora Corrigan has also participated during the Symphony's annual Celtic Concert for many years. Canadian fiddle Champion Shane Cook played with the Orchestra in 2012 and returned in 2013. In 2014, harmonica virtuoso Mike Stevens headlined the orchestra's "Classics Cross Country" concert.
Detroit Music Awards:
In 2011, the International Symphony Orchestra was awarded the title of "Outstanding Community Orchestra" from among several American and Canadian organizations that ring Lake Huron. The Orchestra was again nominated in 2012, but did not win.