Edward Benyas is Professor of Oboe and Conducting at SIU Carbondale, Music Director of the Southern Illinois Symphony, 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. 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.
Mr. Benyas has guest-conducted orchestras in California, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Georgia, Louisiana, Virginia, Maine, North Dakota, Washington, Canada, China, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. Important past conducting engagements include La Bohème at the Silesian State Opera, Shenzhen (China) Symphony, 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 over 12 years with the Southern Illinois Music Festival. Of his appearance with the Illinois Chamber Symphony, the Copley Chicago Newspapers wrote: "Edward Benyas' clear directions from the podium helped create a night of true magic." 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.”
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,” and in 2015 he received the Carbondale Community Arts Legacy Award. 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.