Benzie Area Symphony Orchestra

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The Benzie Area Symphony Orchestra (BASO) is 38 years old this year. Formed in 1980 by Julia Kurtyka, a professional violinist and string teacher in the Frankfort Public Schools, the BASO offers local community musicians a venue for playing their instruments. Since its founding, the orchestra has been graced by the batons of three other local, prominent musicians and educators: Don Smith (1985-1999), Dorothy Kunkel (1999-2007), and John Beery (2008-2014).

We want to express our great thanks and gratitude to John Beery for his amazing and talented assets as our former maestro, conductor, and musical advisor. The BASO is indebted to his unwavering service as a professional and will miss him as a friend.

 2016 — Introducing Tom Riccobono...Benzie Area Symphony Orchestra's New Conductor!

The Benzie Area Symphony Orchestra (BASO,) is pleased to announce that Mr. Tom Riccobono has been appointed as the new conductor to shape the artist vision of the orchestra during the 2016 season.

After a long two year process of auditioning and guest conductors, the orchestra is excited that a conductor of Mr. Riccobono’s strengths and caliber possessed a shared desire to bring the orchestra to the next level as a musical group. Mr. Riccobono is Instructor of Low Brass with the Interlochen Arts Academy, Faculty with the Interlochen Trombone and Tuba Institute, Adult Band Camp Artistic Director and Low Brass Faculty, Interlochen College of Creative, and Principal Trombonist with the Traverse Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Riccobono holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music, Penn State University, and a Performers' Certificate from the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Mr. Riccobono has performed with the Savannah Symphony, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic, Milwaukee Symphony, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival Orchestra in Salzau, Germany, Spoleto Festival Orchestra, Italy. He also performed with such commercial acts as the Temptations, Four Tops, Moody Blues, Four Irish Tenors, Abe Laboriel, John Fedchock, Harry Connick Sr., Luciano Pavaratti, Doc Severinsen, Don Rickles, Yes, Ian Anderson, Bernadette Peters, and conductors Christoph Eschenbach, Mstislav Rostropovich, Lorin Maazel, Kevin Rhodes, Robert Shaw, Louis Lane, Michael Stern, Leon Fleisher. He is the former artistic director of the Encore Winds and is principal trombone of the Traverse Symphony Orchestra. Tom lives in Traverse City with his wife. The Benzie Area Symphony Orchestra is pleased to welcome Mr. Tom Riccobono as conductor for our 36th season.


Board of Directors

  • Jim Bekkering, President and Chair
  • John Oliver, Vice President
  • Marcia Korwin, Co-Secretary, Adjunct Member
  • Kristin Pensyl-Grabowski, Co-Secretary
  • Alex Flannery, Treasurer
  • Candace Wiebener, Concertmaster, Adjunct Member
  • Nancy Williamson, Adjunct Member
  • Dorothy Kunkel, Emeritus Member
  • Malcolm Brannen
  • Gary Gatzke
  • Chris Hintz
  • Laura Hood


  • Tom Riccobono, Conductor and Musical Advisor
  • Autumn Kirby, Music Librarian
  • Theresa Kelley, Operations Manager and Web Site Coordinator

If you are interested in serving on our board, please contact our Operations Manager — see the Contact page.


For more information about becoming a member of the orchestra, please contact our Operations Manager — see the Contact page


If you would like to make a donation, please contact our Operations Manager — see the Contact page. BASO, Inc., is a 501-c3 non-profit organization, so donations are tax-deductible.


  • Community Foundation Rotary Endowment
  • Grant Applications
  • Many other generous individuals and organizations

 The Benzie Area Symphony Orchestra, Inc. is a proud member of the:

Last Update: July 25, 2018

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