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Edward Benyas

Edward Benyas, Professor Emeritus


Edward Benyas is Emeritus Professor at SIU Carbondale, where he was Music Director of the Southern Illinois Symphony and Professor of Oboe and Conducting for 29 years. He is Music Director of the New Chicago Chamber Orchestra—with which he made his European conducting debut—and founder and Artistic Director of the Southern Illinois Music Festival, which presents three-dozen concerts annually each June. He also serves as Executive Director of the Cascade Symphony Orchestra in Washington state, and principal conductor at Winter Opera St. Louis and Musica Malicorne-sur-Sarthe in the Loire region of France.

Mr. Benyas previously served as Music Director of the Skokie Valley Symphony, the North Shore Chamber Orchestra, Symphony Fantastique! and the Southern Illinois Youth Orchestra. He appeared on national television leading a chorus and orchestra comprised of musicians from throughout Illinois during funeral services for Senator Paul Simon.

Under his leadership, the Southern Illinois Symphony was named Orchestra of the Year, and he was named Conductor of the Year, by the Illinois Council of Orchestras. A student of Ray Still, Robert Morgan and Victor Yampolsky, Mr. Benyas holds a graduate degree in Orchestral Conducting and Oboe Performance from Northwestern University, as well as Bachelor and Juris Doctor degrees from the University of Michigan. He also studied at the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors under the late Charles Bruck, and at the International Workshop for Opera Conductors with the late Georg Tintner.

Edward Benyas Office: Altgeld 114-D
Phone: 312-560-2094

Mr. Benyas has guest-conducted orchestras and opera companies in California, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Georgia, Louisiana, Virginia, Maine, North Dakota, Washington, France, Canada, China, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic. Important past conducting engagements include La Bohème at the Silesian State Opera, The Magic Flute at Pacific Opera, Shenzhen Symphony and Tianjin Opera Orchestra (China), New Symphony Orchestra of Bulgaria, the Des Moines Metro Opera Orchestra, the Illinois Chamber Symphony, the Northwestern University Chamber Orchestra, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra before the President and an audience of 10,000, and working with artists of international stature for two decades with the Southern Illinois Music Festival. A California reviewer wrote: “Maestro Benyas captured every subtle nuance and capitalized upon every beautiful moment in the symphony while maintaining balance and precision. He simply swept the audience away with a beautiful presentation of this piece.” Reviewing Mozart’s Magic Flute in 2019, Opera Today wrote, “Edward Benyas indeed worked some ‘magic’ in the pit with his assured baton eliciting stylish results from a sizable orchestra. It is to Maestro Benyas’ great credit that the musical execution was of a very high order throughout.”

In 1998, Mr. Benyas helped establish the Sofia-Mt. Vitosha International Conducting Institute, where he coached rising young conductors from the United States, South America and Europe. Since 1998, Mr. Benyas has led the New Chicago Chamber Orchestra on numerous tours of the Midwest. His conducted repertoire includes nearly 400 works, including a dozen world premieres and over two-dozen complete operas and ballets.

Mr. Benyas also enjoys an active career as an oboe and English horn player, having performed with the Chicago Symphony under Daniel Barenboim, the Lyric Opera under Zubin Mehta, the Milwaukee and Grant Park Symphonies, the Ravinia Festival Orchestra, at the Spoleto, Banff and Carmel Bach summer music festivals, as Principal Oboe for Andrea Bocelli’s National Tour, as founder/director of The Oak Street Winds and as Principal Oboist of the Des Moines Metro Opera. The late Robert Marsh of the Chicago Sun-Times described his “beautiful tone and precise intonation” during the famous oboe solo in the Brahms Violin Concerto. His 2002 appearance as conductor and oboe soloist with Rachel Barton and the Chicago Chamber Orchestra was broadcast on WSIU public television, and his appearance with The Oak Street Winds on the Dame Myra Hess Recital Series was broadcast live nationally on 300 affiliate radio stations. Mr. Benyas has served on the Boards of Directors of the International Conductors Guild, the Illinois Council of Orchestras, the WSIU Friends Board, and the SISO Patrons Committee. In 2007, he received the “Keeping the Arts in Business” Award from the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce, in 2012 the Southern Business Journal named him a “Leader Among Us,” in 2015 he received the Carbondale Community Arts Legacy Award, in 2017 he received the David Kenney award from the Carbondale Lions Club, he was named the Southern Illinois University College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Scholar in 2018, and in 2019 received the WSIU Good Neighbor Award in the Educator category. He has served as an elected Board Member of both Jackson County and the Carbondale Elementary School District, is a member of the state bar of Illinois, and practiced law for five years in Chicago before pursuing music full-time.


  • MUS 366/566: Orchestra
  • MUS 318/556: Advanced Instrumental Conducting
  • MUS 102: Introduction to Music Literature
  • MUS 365C: Instrumental Chamber Music
  • MUS 040B-540B: Applied Oboe
  • MUS 540W: Applied Orchestral Conducting
  • MUS 033B: Oboe portion of Woodwind Techniques
  • MUS 482/UHON351: Classical Music and World Affairs

Teaching/Creative Activity Specialties and Responsibilities

  • Director of Orchestras
  • Professor of Oboe
  • Orchestral Conducting
  • Chamber Music
  • Fundraising and Community Engagement
  • Southern Illinois Symphony and Chamber Orchestra
  • Southern Illinois Music Festival
  • New Chicago Chamber Orchestra


Maestro Edward Benyas conducts the Southern Illinois Music Festival Orchestra:

Oboist Edward Benyas performs the Concerto in C Minor for Oboe and Violin by J.S. Bach, with violinist, Rachel Barton and the Chicago Chamber Orchestra:

Professor Edward Benyas demonstrates and explains several important oboe audition etudes:

City of Carbondale promotional video featuring Edward Benyas and Southern Illinois Symphony:

Beauty of Southern Illinois with soundtrack from Southern Illinois Music Festival:

Beethoven Symphony No. 1 and Musical Demonstrations with Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra: