The Finger Lakes Symphony Orchestra was established in 1972. This community group of volunteer musicians decided to bring excellent classical and pops music to the adjoining counties of Ontario, Wayne, Yates and Seneca. The FLSO has also performed in Monroe County at the Hochstein Auditorium, and plays regularly in Ithaca when accpmpanying the Ithaca Ballet performing "The Nutcracker" Ballet.
The orchestra has been performing three major classical concerts during it's annual season in October, late February and end of April/early May. During the Holiday, the first performance of "The Nutcracker" Ballet with the Ithaca Ballet occurs on teh weekend after Thanksgiving at The Smith in Geneva. Then in early December in Ithaca. The group has enjoyed and is extremely grateful for the generosity of the Red Jacket School District in Manchester/Shortsville which allows the rehearsals to take place in their band room. The fiver rehearsals per concert are normally on Tuesday evenings from 7:00 - 9:00pm.
The "FLSO Mark Bradley Young Artist Competition" is open to all youth through grade 12 playing any instrument, except piano and voice. Auditions are held in March so as to allow the orchestra to rehearse the piece being performed by the young artist as part of the Spring concert.
During the Summer, pops music is rehearsed to be performed in various outdoor venues such as Casey Park in Ontario, the gazebo in the Geneva Lakefront Park, "Orchestra in the pines" at Cumming Nature Center and various other venues including the Sodus Point Lighthouse, and Kershaw Park in Canandaigua.
Participation is totally voluntary and does not require an audition.
The classical concerts and Nutcracker generate income from admissions or donations. The Summer pops engagements are hired out performances funded by the host municipalities or organizations. An annual fund drive and on-going requests for donations have kept the orchestra "in the black" every year of it's existence.
Part of the operation is supported by grants from the New York State Council for the Arts as distributed through the DEC application process.
The orchestra is led by a paid Music Director/Conductor and a paid Concert Master.
S. Shade Zajac, Music Director and Conductor since 2018
S. Shade Zajac is a freelance conductor, composer and cellist. He is the Principal Conductor and Music Director of both the Finger Lakes Symphony Orchestra and the Genesee Symphony Orchestra. He was appointed to these positions in the Spring of 2017 and 2016, respectively. Mr. Zajac also works with other ensembles as a guest conductor and in 2019 will conduct the Orchard Park Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Mahler’s First Symphony.
Mr. Zajac has conducted the Nazareth College Chamber Orchestra, Nazareth College Symphony Orchestra and the Opus Werkes No.2 on numerous occasions. He was a student of Professor Nancy Strelau and was a guest conductor of her orchestra, the Greater Rochester Women’s Philharmonic. Mr. Zajac was awarded the Paul Vermel 2015-2016 Apprenticeship with the Northwest Symphony Orchestra in Chicago, working with Maestro Kim Diehnelt. He was also accepted as a Fellow in the BCO December 2015 Workshop under the direction of Maestro Markand Thakar, where he conducted the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra in selections such as Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings”. In the spring of 2016, Mr. Zajac was an active participant in the 8th Ithaca International Conducting Master Class with Maestros Donald Schleicher and Dr. Jeffery Meyer. He led the Ithaca College Chamber and Symphony Orchestras in performances of Berio’s Folk Songs for Mezzo Soprano and Orchestra, and Mahler’s Fourth Symphony. In March 2018, he conducted the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Genesee Symphony Orchestra featuring David Kim, Concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Mr. Zajac is founder of the Seneca Summer Music Festival and Orchestra, providing events that include chamber music and orchestra performances. Emphasis is placed on raising funds for charities and offering classical music to surrounding communities in upstate New York. In 2018, the Genesee Symphony Orchestra performed a special concert as part of the festival.
Mr. Zajac is the founding member of the Asteria Quartet, that performs frequently around upstate New York. As an orchestra player, Shade was Principal Cellist of the Nazareth College Chamber and Symphony orchestra and has sat Principal Cellist in the Roberts and Wesleyan College Community Orchestra. He was the winner of the Nazareth College Concerto/Aria Competition both in 2012 and 2014 and performs solo and chamber music concerts frequently around the Rochester and Finger Lakes area.
A prolific composer, Mr. Zajac has written music for solo cello (commissioned by Pro. Mimi Hwang), a cello sonata, piano concerto, violin concerto, seven string quartets, and pieces for percussion ensemble, chamber groups and orchestra. In April 2016, he completed his first symphony in which he dedicated to his teacher Nancy Strelau, the Greater Rochester Women’s Philharmonic and the Nazareth College Symphony Orchestra. His Second Symphony completed in the Summer of 2018 will be premiered by the Seneca Summer Music Festival Orchestra in July 2019 as part of the Festival’s 6th Season Celebration.
FLSO Concert Master
Meghan O'Keefe, Concert Master