Tuesday, January 30, 2018

FVSO Received NEA Grant for Brubeck Outreach

The Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support outreach activities associated with our upcoming concert featuring Grammy-nominated composer and trombonist Chris Brubeck. 

The $10,000 “Challenge America” grant will underwrite the costs for Brubeck and Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra musicians to share the music of modern American legends with veterans and audiences in rural areas, as well as support Brubeck’s appearance with at the symphony’s February 3 concert at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center’s Thrivent Financial Hall.

Brubeck’s outreach events will include an interactive workshop at the Gerold Opera House in Weyauwega focusing on performance and music composition with band students from the Weyauwega area.  He’ll follow that up with a lecture and performance at the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King.  The FVSO’s Brass Circle quintet will accompany Brubeck at both appearances.

Photo Credit: Stephane Colbert
“Working with the local youth is part of our mission. Helping to provide the opportunity to be inspired and informed by Chris Brubeck and members of the symphony is very exciting,” said Kathy Fehl, Artistic Director of WEGA Arts.  “The effort to work with us and other places in the area is wonderful; encouraging kids to consider a life in the arts is very important.”

Brubeck said he hopes that he can contribute to the creative spirit in the young music students.

“We still live in a society where a creative thinker, player, visual artist, dancer, film maker, author or singer can still have a significant impact. If I can connect with, encourage and inspire one young person to pursue their dreams then I feel that the mission was accomplished,” said Brubeck. “The Arts are a reminder of our wonderful human potential.”

Brubeck’s performance at the Veteran’s Home at King inspired some memories of his father, jazz musician and composer, Dave Brubeck.

“Through the years, my Dad told me many stories about his going into hospitals and playing music for Veterans which seemed to connect with them in a special way,” said Chris Brubeck. “If the Vets can't come to a concert, I am happy to go to see them and reach out through music.”

On February 3, Brubeck will be featured as the guest artist for the symphony’s “Modern American Legends” concert.  He will also participate in a discussion with FVSO’s Sandra Lemke & Monroe Trout Music Director Brian Groner before the concert in the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center’s Kimberly-Clark Theater. 

The NEA Challenge America grant program offers support for projects that extend the reach of the arts to those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. 

ABOUT THE National Endowment for the Arts
Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov to learn more about NEA.  (Source, arts.gov/news)

ABOUT Chris Brubeck
Grammy-nominated composer Chris Brubeck continues to distinguish himself as a multi-faceted performer and creative force.  An award-winning writer, he is clearly tuned into the pulse of contemporary music. The respected music critic for The Chicago Tribune, John von Rhein calls Chris: “a composer with a real flair for lyrical melody--a 21st Century Lenny Bernstein.”   
Chris has created an impressive body of symphonic work while maintaining a demanding touring and recording schedule with his two groups:  the Brubeck Brothers Quartet (with brother Dan on drums), and Triple Play, an acoustic trio featuring Chris on piano, bass and trombone along with guitarist Joel Brown and harmonica player extraordinaire Peter Madcat Ruth. Additionally, Chris performs as a soloist playing his trombone concertos with orchestras and has served as Artist in Residence with orchestras and colleges in America, coaching, lecturing, and performing with students and faculty.

Chris is a much sought-after composer, and has been commissioned to write many innovative works. Current projects include a concerto for the Canadian Brass Quintet to be premiered with the Lexington Philharmonic in November 2017.  As Composer in Residence with the New Haven Symphony, Chris premiered Time Changes for Jazz Combo and Orchestra.  He had two new commissions premiere in 2016:  "Fanfare for a Remarkable Friend" and "Sphere of Influence".  His "Affinity: Concerto for Guitar & Orchestra" was written for celebrated guitarist Sharon Isbin, and premiered in April, 2015.  To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Allied Liberation of France in June, 2014, Chris and French composer Guillaume Saint-James wrote Brothers in Arts: 70 Years of Liberty, which premiered to much acclaim in Rennes, France. Chris's long list of commissions are varied and range from a Russian-American cooperative project commissioned by the Hermitage Museum and the National Gallery ("The Hermitage Cats Save the Day"), to the Kennedy Center for the National Symphony Orchestra; to concertos written for violinist Nick Kendall; the exciting trio Time for Three, a song cycle for Frederica von Stade ("River of Song") as well as many chamber and orchestral pieces commissioned by the Concord Chamber Music Society, the Muir String Quartet, 3 commissions from The Boston Pops, and multiple commissions from consortiums including The Boston Pops, Baltimore Symphony, Colorado Music Festival in Boulder, Indianapolis Symphony, Portland Symphony, Oakland East Bay Symphony, and many others. 

His highly acclaimed Concerto for Bass Trombone and Orchestra, has been played by many of the top bass trombonists in the world and was recorded with Chris as soloist with the London Symphony Orchestra.  It can be heard on the Koch International Classics recording "Bach to Brubeck".  He also wrote a second trombone concerto, The Prague Concerto which he premiered and recorded with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra on the Koch cd, "Convergence".  Reviewing that disc, Fanfare Magazine wrote "Brubeck's skill both as composer and soloist is extraordinary." April, 2009 saw the premiere of “Ansel Adams: America”, an exciting orchestral piece written by Chris and Dave Brubeck.  It was commissioned by a consortium of eight orchestras and is accompanied by 100 of Ansel Adams’ majestic images projected above the orchestra.  In 2013, "Ansel Adams: America" was nominated for a Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition. 

Join us for the Concert on Saturday:
February 3 at 6:40 pm:  Pre-show lecture in the Kimberly-Clark Theatre at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center.

February 3 at 7:30 pm:  Concert with the Fox Valley Symphony in Thrivent Hall at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Our NEW Youth Orchestra Conductor

AMAZING NEWS! We finally have our new Youth Orchestra conductor! Mr. Andres Moran is the director of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Symphony Orchestra and a horn teacher. He was a resident conductor of the El Paso Symphony and also music director of the El Paso Symphony Youth Orchestras. Mr. Moran has a Doctorate of Music from Indiana University and a Bachelor of Music from New Mexico State University. Our coaching team and hiring committee met with Mr. Moran several times before making our decision and we are all excited about having him join our team next season. He brings with him a great passion for music education, wonderful ideas about engaging our community, and impressive technical skills on the podium. "I'm very excited to be joining the Fox Valley Youth Symphony team!” says Mr. Moran. “Throughout the hiring process, I was impressed with the level of commitment and passion that the staff and board have for this program. I can't wait to start working with our young musicians in the fall, and I look forward to getting to know more members of the Fox Valley community through our performances." Please join me in welcoming Mr. Moran to the Youth Orchestra!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thank YOU on this #GivingTuesday

When the folks at New York’s 92nd Street Y got together five years ago to find a way to celebrate and encourage generosity, they had no idea their project would one day be embraced by over 40,000 organizations worldwide. They couldn’t have predicted that over $116 million would be raised through social media, and they had to be shocked that their #GivingTuesday would become an international movement – a national holiday of sharing.

Those of us at the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra take this opportunity on #GivingTuesday to thank our donors, audience members, volunteers and sponsors for their generosity every day of the year.  Thank you for sharing your time, your resources, your attention, and your efforts with us.  Thank you for understanding that our mission of nurturing symphonic music within our community is fulfilled because of your gifts.

Thank you on this #GivingTuesday. 

For more information on ways to support the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra, check out our website 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Art from the Classroom to the Concert Hall

Students across Appleton have been diving deep into the music of our upcoming concert.  Big Arts in the Little Apple is a community collaboration coordinated in partnership with The Building for Kids Children’s Museum and the Appleton Area School District to give students the opportunity to explore the intersection of music and the visual arts. 

As part of the program, elementary students at 17 schools learned about and listened to this autobiographical tone poem by Richard Strauss, and then took that inspiration to their visual arts classrooms to create art in response.  Over 600 of these students submitted their work for consideration and the top 50 to be featured at the Saturday, November 19th concert when the symphony performs this epic piece.

In addition to the elementary students, high schoolers at the Appleton Career Academy participated in a Music and Art Fusion Seminar developed by Elyse Lucas.  After a few days exploring the piece of music in depth, these students wrote proposals for the creation of three dimensional works of art made with repurposed instruments.  These sculptures will

Don’t miss this opportunity to see the creativity of our local students and experience Ein Heldenleben in person with your Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, November 19thBuy your tickets online today.

Friday, September 23, 2016

When Felix Met Ferdinand: How Friendship Produced a Masterpiece for the Violin

Written by Erik Leveille, First Violin for
the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra
“I should like to write a violin concerto for you next winter. One in E minor runs in my head, the beginning of which gives me no peace.” Felix Mendelssohn’s ‘earworm’, as described in a letter from July 1838 to his good friend, violinist Ferdinand David, would become one of the most beloved and instantly recognizable melodies in the violin concerto literature.

Travel now further back in time to Berlin, 1825: 15 year old violin prodigy Ferdinand David, after two years of study with the renowned violinist and composer Louis Spohr, is on his first concert tour. There he encounters the equally precocious pianist and composer, 16 year old Felix Mendelssohn, who had that very year completed his Octet for strings, a masterwork of such assurance and maturity that even Mozart himself had not achieved at that age. 

Both boys hailed from Hamburg, where their families were acquainted with each other- Ferdinand was even born in the very house where Felix had been born the previous year. Their meeting in Berlin resulted in a fast friendship- a year later, when the Mendelssohns had settled in Berlin, Felix wrote to Ferdinand that “it is of the utmost importance for your future career that you should soon come to Berlin…Would to God that I might soon have the pleasure of seeing you settled here, for I am convinced that nothing could be better for you than life and work in Berlin”. After first securing a job in a Berlin theater orchestra, David took the advice to heart. Ferdinand was thereafter often a guest in the Mendelssohn home, where the two would play string quartets together(Felix on viola) with David's orchestra colleagues.

When Mendelssohn was appointed director of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig(still going strong to this day!), he invited David to be his concertmaster; they worked hand in hand to produce one of the finest ensembles of the day. He similarly appointed his friend as violin professor when he founded the Leipzig Conservatory in 1843(David would become one of the most important teachers of the 19th century- his greatest student, Joseph Joachim, would go on to collaborate with Johannes Brahms in producing his violin concerto). Both men shared a seriousness of mind and reverence for music of the past (Mendelssohn gave the first 19th century performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, and David produced the first performing edition of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin, and was the first to publicly perform Bach’s Chaconne) that contrasted with the dazzling pyrotechnics of flamboyant virtuosos in the mold of Paganini, which Mendelssohn dismissed as “juggler’s tricks”. David’s love of music of the Baroque is still with us today- many of the sonatas that he selected for his “High School of Violin Playing” comprise much of the later volumes of the Suzuki Violin School, in versions scarcely altered from David’s originals and performed by violin students worldwide.

We are honored to perform Mendelssohn with
the legendary Itzhak Perlman on
September 28, 2016 at the Fox Cities P.A.C.
Other commitments prevented Mendelssohn from finally working out his E minor earworm until 1844. Felix relied on his colleague not only for technical advice on the solo part(David was in large part responsible for the great cadenza at the heart of the first movement which was among the first to be written out instead of improvised by the soloist) but even details of the orchestration. In their correspondence, Mendelssohn is eager to please his friend and even self-deprecating; in a letter fired off before the manuscript went to the publishers he requests some last minute alterations and exclaims “Thank God the fellow is through with his concerto! you will say. Excuse my bothering you, but what can I do?”

The long gestation and close collaboration paid off; the premiere in March 1845 was a tremendous success, though sadly Mendelssohn was ill and unable to conduct. When further ill health tragically ended Mendelssohn’s life two years later at the age of 38, Ferdinand David was among the small circle of family and friends who attended his bedside. David continued to champion his friend’s concerto and taught it to his pupils. Through his advocacy Mendelssohn's masterpiece quickly took its place of honor as one of the greatest works for the violin. 

We in the present day still respond to the concerto’s blend of passionate lyricism, intimacy, and puckish high spirits. The musicians of the Fox Valley Symphony look forward to accompanying the great Itzhak Perlman in this masterpiece born out of friendship! 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Music and Visual Arts in Harmony

A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others – Salvador Dali

We are so excited to have the opportunity to perform great music with incredible guest artists throughout our 50th Anniversary season, but above that excitement is our sincere hope that this music can inspire our audiences. 

Our first concert artist is Cristian Andersson
For this milestone season, we decided to see if our music could inspire our local visual artists as well.  Several artists have been commissioned to utilize the music of one of our season concerts to inspire the creation of a piece of art.  These original artworks will be reproduced in a limited, numbered, and signed poster series commemorating out 50th Anniversary Season.

We are lucky to have such talented artists working on capturing this exciting season. Our first featured visual artist is Cristian Andersson.  Cristian has spent countless hours creating a beautiful oil painting inspired by the music of Itzhak Perlman to commemorate our Opening Night. Other artists include Emily Reetz, Stephanie Harvey, and Lee Mothes.

Don’t miss this opportunity to own a piece of this historic season.  Individual posters will be available for purchase at each concert.  However, right now through our SOLD OUT opening night performance with Itzhak Perlman, you have the opportunity to pre-order your set of posters and ensure uniform numbering from all five concerts.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Sharing Symphonic Music with Local Seniors

The Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra (FVSO) kicked off our Senior Outreach Series on Monday, August 22nd at 3:30pm with an outdoor Brass Quintet performance at the campus of the Rennes Health and Rehab (325 E Florida Avenue, Appleton).

“Rennes is overjoyed to be a part of the Senior Series with the Fox Valley Symphony. Music is a large part of most of our residents’ lives but concert accessibly is a challenge that we face frequently. Being able to bring this type of performance to them fills our hearts with happiness and theirs with joy,” said Danielle Mosher, Director of Admissions from Rennes Health and Rehab.

This series of small group concerts presented in partnership with local senior living communities seeks to expand the reach and accessibility of our Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra musicians. In addition to reaching the residents of the senior communities hosting the concerts, all of the concerts are free and open to the public.

Other concerts in the series include:
Wind Quartet at Oak Park Place (2205 Midway Road, Menasha) on October 6th, 2016 at 6pm. RSVP to 920.702.0000.

Strings & Wind Holiday Tea at Carolina Assisted Living (3201 W. 1st Avenue Appleton) on December 1st, 2016 at 7pm. RSVP to 920.738.0118.

String Quartet in the Garden at Valley VNA (1535 Lyon Drive, Neenah) on June 13th, 2017 at 6pm with a reception to follow. RSVP to 920.727.5544.

“The power of music is undeniable, especially for aging adults. That is why we are so excited for this Senior Outreach Series where we can reach those who might no longer be able to attend our full concerts,” said Jamie LaFreniere, Executive Director for the Fox Valley Symphony.

This series is made possible through the partnership of our host locations as well as the series sponsor, Home Instead Senior Care. “Home Instead is committed to helping seniors stay engaged and active. We are so excited to partner with the FVSO and hosting senior communities to bring the Senior Series to the Fox Valley,” said Cheryl Smith, Appleton Branch Manager for Home Instead Senior Care.

About the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra: The Symphony's mission is to enrich and nurture the human spirit through symphonic music and educational opportunities that enhance the cultural development of our community. Founded in 1966, the non-profit provides the community with quality music, as well as performance and educational opportunities for area musicians. Their 50th Anniversary Season begins on September 28, 2016, at the Fox Cities Performing Arts
Center with special guest artist Itzhak Perlman.