About Us

Enriching Lives Through Music

36 years ago, a small group of musicians gathered to present a concert to a group of their friends in a downtown Sandusky church. Encouraged by the support from the community, the group flourished and after years of performances and community engagement, developed into the professional orchestra we present to you today.

The orchestra, first known as The Fine Arts Chamber Orchestra, began under the direction of Timothy Claughbaugh who has served as the organist for St. Mary’s Church in Sandusky since 1982. Several interim conductors led the orchestra until J. Santos Perez became music director and conductor in 1992. It was at this time that the organization changed its name to The Firelands Symphony Orchestra and was established as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity. Under the direction of Santos Perez the orchestra grew, however it was not until May of 2008 when Carl Topilow was engaged to lead the FSO that things really started to happen!

Since Maestro Topilow’s appointment as music director and conductor, the Firelands Symphony Orchestra has expanded to include not only local musicians and instructors, but students from both the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Our audience size increases with each year as our performances and guest artists that rival those of larger cities around the country.

We are now proud to announce the debut of the Firelands Symphony Chorale. Under the direction of Michael Shirtz the Chorale will serve as the chorus-in-residence, performing with the full orchestra throughout the season as well as chorale-only performances.

Our Mission

Firelands Symphony Orchestra is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization who’s mission is to provide musical entertainment and education to the community.