Symphony of
the Lakes

The Wagon Wheel Symphony of the Lakes is a professional orchestra that calls Warsaw and Winona Lake communities home.

With more than 100 paid musicians, the Symphony of the Lakes celebrates local and regional talent.

The Symphony supports the Wagon Wheel’s mission by:

  • Hosting concerts in more accessible and diverse venues like Winona Lake Park.
  • Collaborating with Wagon Wheel Conservatory and other arts organizations to provide more educational opportunities for local youth musicians.
  • Strengthening the economic foundation of our community by fostering a higher quality of place.

With more than 100 musicians in the Symphony, the Wagon Wheel stage is not big enough to host most Symphony of the Lakes concerts. The Symphony can often be found performing at the Winona Heritage Room, Grace College’s Manahan Orthopedic Capital Center, Winona Lake Park, and the Warsaw Performing Arts Center.

From symphonic classics to new and invigorating programming, the Symphony of the Lakes is dedicated to bringing music lovers of all types together through its wide variety of programming and the talents of our musicians.


Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, and Symphony groups have a long history in the community. From the Wagon Wheel’s founder, Herbert Petrie, holding band camps in Winona Lake in the 1950s to Grace College’s music department, and the Masterworks Festival. Over time, different groups have morphed and transitioned into what became the Symphony of the Lakes in 2005.

Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts acquired Symphony of the Lakes in 2015 and at that time, Thomas Stirling was music director of both the Wagon Wheel and Symphony of the Lakes.

The Symphony performed under Stirling’s direction until his untimely and sudden death on December 23, 2018, at age 45. Jason Thompson, Professor of Music at Indiana Wesleyan University, had been a previous guest director fo the Symphony and was asked to direct several concerts following Stirling’s passing. Thompson was named principal conductor and artistic director of the Symphony of the Lakes in 2021.

The Symphony has come full circle in recent years with the formation of the Classic Arts Coalition, a volunteer committee composed of staff and volunteers from Grace College’s Music Department, Classic Arts Programs, and Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts.

Symphony of the Lake Auditions

The Symphony of the Lakes orchestra holds auditions annually in the fall.

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Educational Opportunities

Whether you are a professional musician or student, Wagon Wheel Conservatory offers educational opportunities for performing artsits of all skill and experience levels!

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