The South Bend Symphony opens the 90th season with Music Director Alastair Willis and his sister, internationally renowned French horn player Sarah Willis of the Berlin Philharmonic. The Season’s inaugural performances feature a Cuban mix of Mozart’s classics with Mozart y Mambo on Saturday and Sunday, September 24 and 25, at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center on the University of Notre Dame campus. Our Jack M. Champaigne Masterworks Series and June H. Edwards Mosaic Series concerts will feature the intricacies of popular Cuban musical styles while interweaving the glorious sounds of Mozart and more!

“What a thrill to open our 90th with my sister and our wonderful musicians!  Join us for an evening of celebration and Mozart’s Horn Concerto No.3, the Cuban-infused Rondo alla Mambo, Stravinsky’s delectable neo-classic Pulcinella Suite, Joseph Bologne’s overture to “The Anonymous Lover”, and Milhaud’s Brazilian-infused romp “The Ox on the Roof”, shares Music Director Alastair Willis.

After visiting Cuba for the first time in 2017, Sarah Willis saw a statue of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in Havana. A Cuban friend told her, “Mozart would have been a good Cuban,” referencing how his melodies and rhythms bring life to any space. This statue of Mozart and her friend’s comment inspired her to create this “exciting, unique and,” she admits, “somewhat crazy project.”

Her knowledge of the classical Cuban music scene was limited. Still, through Cuban friends new and old, she immersed herself in the world of classical Cuban music and began her journey raising awareness of Cuba’s classical music prospects.

This concert also includes works by Stravinsky, Bologne, and Milhaud. Get ready to dip and sway to a refreshing take on Mozart and join us for a performance you will not forget!

The Symphony thanks Jack M. Champaigne for his support of the Masterworks Series and the June H. Edwards Mosaic Series. Jordan Lexus of Mishawaka proudly supports the 90th Season Guest Artists, including Sarah Willis.



PHONE – DeBartolo Performing Arts Center Box Office, 574-631-2800 (Noon – 6 pm, Monday–Thursday)

IN-PERSON – Visit our friends at the DeBartolo (100 Performing Arts Center
Notre Dame, IN 46556) during the times listed above or one hour before any performance.

Season SUBSCRIPTIONS are still available.

Subscribers receive the best discounts, priority seating, and other exclusive benefits available to season subscribers. Subscribe at or by phone at 574-232-6343.


FOR MORE DETAILS – Visit to see the entire 2022-23 Season schedule, program notes, and more!

Effective March 14, 2022, facial masks are optional for all audience members inside the Morris Performing Arts Center and the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. This decision and all other safety protocols are based on the CDC’s recommendations for each COVID-19 community level and each venue’s health and safety policies.

For pre-concert interviews, contact Sarah Perschbacher at or 574-232-6343.


About the South Bend Symphony Orchestra

Embarking on their 90th season, the South Bend Symphony Orchestra is the region’s only professional orchestra and is committed to engaging the community in all it does. In addition to being recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts and other state and local arts funding organizations, the South Bend Symphony Orchestra is the recipient of the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County’s 2019 Leighton Award for Nonprofit Excellence, which recognizes the best-run nonprofit organization in St. Joseph County, Indiana.


About Sarah Willis

Sarah Willis was born in Maryland and holds dual British and American citizenship. Her father’s work as a foreign correspondent took her family around the world and they lived in the United States, Tokyo, and Moscow before moving to England when Sarah was 13. She began playing the horn aged 14 at school and then attended the Royal College of Music Junior Department. She went on to study full time at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where her teachers included Anthony Halstead and Jeff Bryant. Sarah later studied with Fergus McWilliam in Berlin, where she became second Horn in the Berlin State Opera under Daniel Barenboim in 1991. During this time, Sarah played as a guest with many top orchestras and performed worldwide as a soloist and in various chamber music ensembles.

In 2001, Willis joined the Berlin Philharmonic, becoming the first female member of the brass section. As well as her work with the orchestra and her masterclasses, which take her all over the world, she has recorded various acclaimed albums including the Brahms Horn Trio, ‘Horn Discoveries’ the Rosetti Double Horn Concertos as well as the much-celebrated CDs, Opera! and Four Corners! with the Berlin Philharmonic Horns. Her latest solo album, “Mozart y Mambo” was recorded in Havana in January 2020. It went straight to number one in the classical charts and also reached the pop and Latino charts. The accompanying video has been viewed over eight million times online.

Sarah is involved in many of the Berlin Philharmonic education projects and especially enjoys creating and presenting their Family Concerts. She interviews conductors and soloists for the Digital Concert Hall and in 2011, she presented live to 33 million viewers during the Final Concert of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. Sarah is passionate about music education and makes full use of digital technology and social media to reach audiences worldwide. She was chosen to be one of the first testers of Google Glass and used this experience to see how new technology could be used in classical music.

Sarah runs a popular series of online interviews known as the “Horn Hangouts”, is a regular broadcaster and interviewer on TV and online and fronts the classical music program Sarah’s Music for Deutsche Welle TV. She moderates the DG International Podcast series for Deutsche Grammophon and her latest documentary films, “Mozart y Mambo” and “A World without Beethoven?” was broadcast worldwide on Deutsche Welle TV.

Sarah’s contributions to classical music were recognized at the highest level in the United Kingdom when she was made an MBE – Member of the Order of the British Empire – by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the Queen’s 2021 Birthday Honors List for services to charity and the promotion of classical music.