About us

Making Music in Benzie County

The Benzie Area Symphony Orchestra was established in 1980 by Julia Kurtyka, a professional violinist and string teacher in the Frankfort Public Schools.  BASO offers local community musicians an chance to rehearse, learn and perform and foster a love of music in Northwest Michigan. The orchestra is most active in the summer and early fall. 

Since its founding, the orchestra has been graced by the batons of three prominent musicians and educators: Don Smith (1985-1999), Dorothy Kunkel (1999-2007), and John Beery (2008-2014). 

The Benzie Area Symphony Orchestra is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that relies on donations and grants to serve the community. For more information about supporting our musical mission, please contact us


Staff & Board of directors



Tom Riccobono - Conductor and Musical Advisor

Autumn Kirby - Music Librarian

Theresa Kelley - Operations Manager and Web Site Coordinator

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