Friday, April 30, 2021

FVS Youth Orchestra Announces New Conductor


Appleton, WI – Fox Valley Symphony Youth Orchestras (FVSYO) is delighted to announce Dr. Mark Dupere will be joining their team as conductor of the Youth Orchestra. Dupere joins conductor Greg Austin of Concert Orchestra and Adam Brown of Philharmonia on the staff and will begin work this spring.  

“His first official act will be to join us for auditions in May,” says Executive Director Jamie LaFreniere, “so he gets to meet all our wonderful students right away.” Though the Youth Orchestra was unable to meet during COVID-19 restrictions, they are looking forward to being in person again in the fall for rehearsals and concerts and are currently seeking new students for their May auditions.

“We are excited about what Mark will bring to the group and love his vision for the future,” adds LaFreniere. “We just recently added Marisol Kuborn to our staff as our first Youth Orchestras Executive Director, and I can’t wait to see what they build together. Both have amazing dedication to our programs and unlimited ideas.”

For more information on Youth Orchestra auditions, visit

About Dr. Mark Dupere:

Mark Dupere is Assistant Professor of Music at Lawrence University Conservatory of Music, where he is the Director of Orchestral Studies. A native of Arizona, he studied cello with Phyllis Young at the University of Texas at Austin before moving to the Netherlands to complete his cello studies with Jaap ter Linden at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. Dupere specialized in Baroque cello and performance practice of the Romantic era. He completed his Doctorate in Orchestral Conducting at Michigan State University with Kevin Noe.

As a cellist, Dupere was a 'New Young Artist' at the Victoria Bach Festival, performed in the Leipzig Bach Competition, and was an apprentice with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in London. He performed with many groups throughout Europe including Anima Eterna Brugge (BE), Arte Dei Suonatori (PL), and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra (NL).  Dupere performed in major European concert halls including the Southbank Centre (London), Konzerthaus (Vienna), Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, and Opéra Royal de Versailles (Paris). Dupere has appeared at various festivals including La Folle Journée Festival (Nantes), Holland Festival (Amsterdam), Le Festival Berlioz (La Côte-Saint-André), Oude Muziek Festival (Utrecht) and Le Festival L’abbaye aux Dames (Saintes). He has worked with directors Mark Wigglesworth, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Neeme Järvi, Gunther Schuller, Bruno Weil, Jos van Immerseel, Robert Levin, Elizabeth Wallfisch and Ton Koopman.  As a founding member of the chamber music ensemble Haagsche Hofmuzieck, Dupere performed and gave masterclasses throughout Europe and the USA. The group made several recordings and was a finalist in the International Telemann Competition in Magdeburg, Germany.

Dupere has performed on BBC Radio and Arte TV and has made numerous recordings. These include discs of Debussy, Ravel and Mussorgsky with Anima Eterna Brugge, Marcello Psalms with Voces8 and Les Inventions (FR) and a recording of the complete chamber works of Locatelli with Ensemble Violini Capricciosi (NL) for Brilliant Classics.

After many years of performing as a professional cellist, Dupere decided to pursue his great passion for conducting and directing. He was a conducting fellow at the Oregon Bach Festival in 2015 and is the Co-Musical Director of the Musica Redemptor Orchestra (Austin, TX), a period instrument ensemble made up of international musicians. He has conducted the Haydn Orchestra (The Hague, NL), the Choir of St John and St Philip in The Hague (NL), the Cypress Symphony (Houston), the Michigan State University Symphony Orchestra and the Michigan State University Concert Orchestra. Mark enjoys conducting various honor orchestras around the country and most recently, he has been named a National Semi-Finalist in the American Prize for Conducting.

Dupere is a passionate educator and hopes to impart a love of music-making and active engagement with audiences in the performance of music from all periods. His areas of research have included: tempo rubato in Romantic chamber music, and pedagogical approaches to teaching period performance concepts in the modern music academy.

About the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra:

The Symphony's mission is to enrich and nurture the human spirit through inclusive symphonic music and education. Founded in 1966, the non-profit provides the community with orchestra concerts, community outreach programming, and three Youth Orchestra programs. Music Director Dr. Kevin Sütterlin leads the adult orchestra, with Mark Dupere conducting Youth Orchestra, Greg Austin conducting Concert Orchestra and Adam Brown conducting Philharmonia.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Changes Ahead for Fox Valley Symphony Youth Orchestras


Appleton, WI – Fox Valley Symphony Youth Orchestra (FVSYO) will say goodbye to the conductor of their top group this spring as Dr. Andres Moran will be leaving the program in April of 2021.

 "I have made the difficult decision to step down as conductor of the Fox Valley Youth Symphony so that I can focus more on my work at UW-Stevens Point and as music director of the Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra,” says Moran. “In my time with FVYS, I was continuously impressed with their level of commitment and dedication to the music and to each other. The orchestra always rose to the occasion in both rehearsals and performance, and I am sure they will continue to do so.

“I want to thank the staff and FVS board for their amazing support and collaboration. My decision was made easier knowing that the organization and the Fox Valley’s talented young musicians are in great hands.”

“We will definitely miss having him lead our group,” says Jamie LaFreniere, FVSO Executive Director. “He took us to the next level with our students and we can’t thank him enough for all he’s done to get us there. We’re looking forward to adding a new conductor who will continue Dr Moran’s focus of giving our students the best ensemble experience and building lasting memories.”

As part of their planned program growth, the FVSYO is excited to add Marisol Kuborn to the Youth Orchestra team as its first Executive Director. “Marisol has been with our Youth Orchestra as a coach and coordinator and it has been a pleasure watching her work with our students. Her dedication is incredible, and I know our program will soar with her as a leader,” says LaFreniere. “I am so excited for her to join our team in this capacity.”

Born in Santiago, Chile, Marisol Kuborn received a Bachelor of Music and a percussion performance degree from the Conservatory of Music at the University of Chile.  She has also received a “Fin du 3éme cycle” (Performance Degree) from the Conservatory of Music of Quebec-Montreal in Canada and a “Concours en Percussion” (Master of Music & Artists Performance Certificate) from the Conservatory of Music of Quebec-Montreal, Canada where she also was awarded the “Prix d’excellence” award.  While studying in Montreal, Canada she also received the DESS (Orchestral Performance Degree) from the University of Montreal.

She is a member of the percussion section of Fox Valley Symphony, Manitowoc Symphony Orchestra, and Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra, and teaches Applied Percussion Studies at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh. 

The program has one final project planned before Dr. Moran’s departure, and is currently working on a virtual Youth Orchestra project for March. You can stay updated on their project on Facebook (@FoxValleySymphonyYouthOrchestra) and Instagram (@fvsorchestra).

About the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra: The Symphony's mission is to enrich and nurture the human spirit through inclusive symphonic music and education. Founded in 1966, the non-profit provides the community with orchestra concerts, community outreach programming, and three Youth Orchestra programs. Music Director Dr. Kevin Sütterlin leads the adult orchestra, with Greg Austin conducting Youth Concert Orchestra and Adam Brown conducting Philharmonia.

Friday, December 18, 2020

A Pandemic Lullaby

By Heather Watney, FVSO Cellist

As a cellist and participant in the Fox Valley Symphony’s outreach programs, I am fortunate to be able to touch the lives of listeners in direct ways. I am lucky enough to play quartet music (these days all virtually) for children with special needs, for adults with special needs or memory challenges, or with libraries/clubs that want to interact with symphony musicians on a smaller scale. It is these special symphony presentations that mean the most to me — because I can see directly how my music touches other lives, sometimes in profound ways that can’t be articulated easily.

In mid-August Cassie Schwandt, FVS’s Director of Community Engagement, asked a few people from the orchestra if they would be interested in trying something different and step into a singer/songwriter role to work on a Carnegie Lullaby Project with Appleton’s Harbor House Domestic Abuse Programs. The Carnegie Lullaby Project pairs musicians with families, and together they compose and write lyrics for a new lullaby that children will have for their whole lives. Families and musicians involved in the program, piloted in New York City, have written more than 1,400 lullabies across the United States and around the globe!  

Jennie Micke, children and youth advocate at Harbor House, shared with me how hard her organization works to empower our local communities to be free from domestic abuse through safety, knowledge and engagement. Jennie was instrumental in our virtual sessions with mothers as the hub of communication in this lullaby project. She explained to me that writing lullabies with musicians gives families recovering from an abusive situation a chance to be empowered through music as a critical decision maker in the direction a song grows. She led all of us — musicians, mothers and children — through the experience with such grace and gentleness.

There were several mothers I could have been paired with, but I ended up with Rachel and her daughter. I’m so grateful I was paired with Rachel. The lullaby we worked on wasn’t just a project in empowerment for her; it was an important time capsule capturing an uncertain moment in Rachel’s life. When I heard her story, it gave me pause. It made me wonder if I could really do justice to a song that would be a lifelong reminder to her little girl of a mother’s love.

Rachel is battling cancer with an unknown outcome at this point. Rachel’s opening spoken dedication in the lullaby poignantly captures this unknown: “If there ever comes a day that we can’t be together, keep me in your heart. I will stay there forever. I love you today, tomorrow and for eternity.” Rachel’s song is her legacy and a reminder for the little love of her life that even if they aren’t together, Rachel is still there, no matter what. Lyrics in the song repeat this loving reminder:

I’m always with you. I’m here at your side. 
I’m smiling at you when you think you’re alone.
through all of your child days and when you are grown.

So, I sobbed. I sat at my piano after our virtual brainstorming sessions ended and sobbed for Rachel, for her daughter, for my own mother going through serious health risks, for separation, for uncertain futures. Then I set out to compose but with a tormented heart — how could I possibly write a song that could reflect this mother’s purest love and be a lasting ode of encouragement for her daughter? I felt like it wasn’t enough to just write any song. It had to be the right song. I spent the next six weeks torturing and questioning myself, immersed in Rachel’s uncertain future, her story and her song.

Our time here’s a journey we cannot control, 
so please live a life that brings joy to your soul.

Rachel also spends time thinking a lot about her daughter’s uncertain future and journey. What happens to her daughter if Rachel dies? She can write a will naming a desired guardian for her daughter, but in Wisconsin that is no guarantee her daughter won’t be placed with her abusive father who lost his rights for custody. Rachel is, in her own way, also trying to craft a lasting ode. She is working hard to bring positive change to Wisconsin law cases where the primary parent with sole custody and parental rights has assurances that the abusive parent who lost his or her rights cannot regain custody upon the death of the primary parent. Rachel clearly has doubts. She asked me, “How do I protect my daughter if I die?” I don’t know the answer. All I could do is write down the inspired words Rachel penned for her daughter and find a melody (the most uplifting moment in the song) that reflected a shared message of hope and truth for Rachel and her daughter, both:

Keep staring your fears in the face like I taught
and overcome all of them. I believe in you!

The weeks passed and I finally felt the song was done. I had recorded the piano part myself, but wanted to make sure I found the right voice for Rachel, who has pain and difficulty with speaking and singing due to treatments. Kristy Danielski, a wonderful friend, nurse, mother and amateur singer from Christ the King Lutheran, provided the singing. Always an empathetic friend who connects deeply to songs she considers emotionally moving, she asked me, “How will I get through this without crying, Heather?” After practicing it at home she informed me that her own daughter, Autumn, spends quiet time in her bedroom singing the lullaby to herself. It made me smile to know that another mother and daughter were finding shared succor with this lullaby.

But the song still needed more musical heart and warmth. So, I called Fox Valley Symphony violist Jane Finch and asked if she would play all the violin and viola parts I wrote (there may have been chocolate and prosecco involved), and I’d play the cello. She didn’t hesitate, which led to multiple hours of socially distanced, masked playing and recording in the sanctuary of Christ the King Lutheran. Her instruments sang in the pandemic-empty space, bringing life and joy to the cavernous room. Hearing her play made my heart feel lighter in this project for the first time. The sun was shining brightly that day, like a warm smile. Jane’s playing was indeed the sound of a mother’s love behind that sunshine smile.

My daughter, my darling, I’m your shining guide.

Before each breakout brainstorming session, we started with singing and fun with all the mothers, musicians and children together. Musician coordinator Sam Taylor found all these fun songs for us to sing together and dreamed up kids’ activities. On one of the days, the children created their own rainsticks and played them during a closing song together. Sam played his authentic rainstick, adding to the cacophony of joyful child noises during that particular Zoom session. I knew I wanted to remind Rachel’s daughter of that musical moment and the rainstick she created with her mom from a toilet paper tube. I asked Sam if he would add some rainstick and string bass to the lullaby I worked on with Rachel. He was more than willing to help out and was instrumental in helping create the final mix with me. His additions to the lullaby were the final pieces of the puzzle. NOW the music was done. I felt exhausted and drained, the fast and inspiring creation process having taken an emotional toll on me. I think I found Rachel’s song.  

Finally, Jennie, Sam and I met with Rachel virtually to help her record her voice and dedication for her daughter. It was the first time she and Jennie heard the whole song from start to finish with the strings added. We were all in tears with the shared experience of the musical journey, of the arrival, of the destination reached. Here was the legacy, completed with her voice — still so beautiful and full of love despite changes due to all her treatments. Here was the gift for her daughter, the spoken and sung assurance that Rachel’s presence would continue no matter what.

Composing and recording music is kind of like being a mother and giving birth. You hope for the best, put your heart and soul into it, and hope your song makes a meaningful impact in the world, even if it impacts just one person. If I live to be 80, Rachel’s daughter will just be turning 41, almost the same age I am now (ok, I’m a few more years older). Even after Rachel and I are both gone, I hope this song I helped craft will still be in this young lady’s life, reminding her that Rachel is always with her, showing her that music has the power to touch our souls in profound ways. I hope this song will help her draw out beautiful memories like a rainstick craft and the sound of her mother’s beautiful voice. I hope this song has the power to remind her that music can be a shining sun in a long, dark winter.

Go live a life that’s defined by just you.
Your vivacious spirit will carry you through.
Go fill your days with your love and desires.
Be confidant fearless and I'll lift you higher.

Please consider donating to Harbor House of Appleton and the Fox Valley Symphony to “lift us higher” and ensure enrichment and outreach programs such as the “Carnegie Lullaby Project,” Youth Orchestras or the “In Harmony” symphony outreach programs can continue into the future. These programs strive and succeed to empower participants and make meaningful connections in our community.

To donate to Harbor House programs please CLICK HERE 

        To donate to Fox Valley Symphony programs please CLICK HERE

For information on the “Carnegie Lullaby Project” CLICK HERE

Thursday, June 25, 2020

An Update on Our 2020-21 Season

As things continue to change in response to the current pandemic, we want you to know we have your safety in mind as we plan for the upcoming season. With that safety in mind, the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra along with the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center are making the responsible decision to offer alternate programming until January of 2021. We both feel it is the right decision to limiting large gatherings.

We hope to add chamber orchestra performances throughout our community this fall. We are committed to making music, even if it looks a bit different at this time. These concerts will be presented virtually, and if fall’s health guidelines permit, we will allow small, socially distanced audiences. Stay tuned for August 10th when we will announce our plans for the full season.

In addition, our orchestra will continue to offer virtual performances, as we have since March. You can visit our website, Facebook, or YouTube channels to add beautiful music to your day. We will continue this programming through the summer.

We want to thank our season ticket holders for their support and patience during this difficult time. We will hold any current subscriptions until we announce the new season in August, but please hold onto your tickets as they are still valid for rescheduled performances! If you have not yet renewed your season tickets, your seats will be waiting for you in the spring or even next fall.

We look forward to being back in our hall and back in our community as soon as it is safe to do so.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Orchestra Notes: A Brief Update

Hello All,

We just wanted to do a quick check with our leadership team and update you on our orchestra planning.

If you have any questions, please let us know and Kevin and Jamie will answer them in an upcoming video.

We hope you are all staying safe and healthy, and we look forward to being with you again soon.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

2020 Brats, Beer, & Beethoven Canceled due to COVID-19

The Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Brats, Beer, & Beethoven event. The sixth edition of this popular, free event was to be held on Friday, July 10 at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium.

“While this is heartbreaking for us, our number one concern is
the safety of our musicians and our audience,” said Jamie LaFreniere, Executive Director for Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra. “Once restrictions lift, we will be back to making music in our community. We’re already looking forward to our next Brats, Beer, and Beethoven at the stadium and we will definitely plan for that next season.”

The first Brats, Beer, & Beethoven was held at the home of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers on July 2, 2015 and was an overwhelmingly positive and successful event. Past events have included performances by the Fox Valleyaires, the MacDowell Male Chorus, some special guests, and the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra.

We want to thank our sponsors for their continued support of this program:
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Our Conductor Search Begins!

This season will be bittersweet for our symphony. As we’ve said goodbye to our Maestro Brian Groner, we now begin the search for our new music director. Brian left behind an amazing legacy, and we are faced with the challenge of finding another great leader to bring us forward.
     After a long and through search, we’ve narrowed the field to four finalists, and I can’t wait for you to meet them. They are all skilled conductors, dedicated educators, and passionate community advocates. Each will share both new music and classics on their concert. Each will work with a soloist and get to know our orchestra both on and off stage.
     More importantly, we want YOU to get to know them. We will have times during their week in Appleton for you to see them in both formal and informal settings, answering questions, and discussing why they are excited to come to our area and join our orchestra.
     Each concert week will be followed up by our team collecting your thoughts and comments. We will have comment cards and surveys at the hall for each concert, as well as emailed surveys, and website forms. Please feel free to give us your candid feedback, ask questions, and become a part of this process.
     I can’t tell you how important this is to all of us. Let us hear from you! We are hoping the person we hire is part of our community, both on stage and off, for a very long time. Please let us know your impressions and help us make a very informed and inclusive decision.
     We would love for you to become a season ticket holder, and then you will receive updates from us throughout the season, letting you know about opportunities to get involved.
  We’re grateful for the 23 years of artistry and dedication Maestro Groner contributed to this community, and we look forward to our next chapter under the baton of our new director. 
     Please scroll down to learn more about our first conductor candidate, Howard Hsu, and join us this Saturday, October 6, at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center for our 2018-19 Opening Night!

     -  Jamie LaFreniere, Executive Director
Save the dates!

October 6, 2018: Conductor Howard Hsu
                  Jonathan Bailey Holland—Motor City Remix
                  Samuel Barber– Violin Concerto, Op. 14, Soloist Kelly Hall-Tompkins
                  Johannes Brahms—Symphony No. 2, Op. 73 in D major
November 17, 2018: (No candidate for this concert)
Disney’s Pixar in Concert! Enjoy scores from your favorite Disney Pixar films! A visually stunning, high-definition, multi-media family show!

January 26, 2019: Conductor Wesley Schulz
Chris Rogerson– Luminosity
Jennifer Higdon– blue cathedral
Aaron Copland– Clarinet Concerto, Soloist Jorge Montilla Moreno
Sergei Rachmaninoff– Symphonic Dances, Op. 45

March 9, 2019: Conductor Alastair Willis
Mason Bates– Mothership
Dmitry Shostakovich– Cello Concerto No. 1, Op. 107 in E flat Major,
Soloist Alexander Hersh
Sergei Prokofiev– Romeo & Juliet, Selections from Suites 1 and 2

May 11, 2019: Conductor Kevin Sütterlin
Adam Hochstatter– My Name is Aiden
Jim Pugh– Trombone Concerto, Soloist Thomas Stark
César Franck– Symphony in D minor

We start the season on October 6 with Conductor Howard Hsu. We've had a fun week with him visiting Appleton East High School, Lawrence University, 91.1 the Avenue, and getting to know our board and donors. Last night was our first rehearsal with the full group, and we continue with a strings-only rehearsal tonight. We can't wait to get in the P.A.C. hall for the first time on Friday night with special guest violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins, friends from our season underwriters at The Boldt Company, and students from Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Boys & Girls Club. It will be a busy weekend, we we can't wait to share this music with you!
Howard Hsu at the Fox Cities P.A.C. (Photo: Graham Washatka)

Learn a little more about our Conductor Howard Hsu:

Howard Hsu is the Music Director of the Valdosta (GA) Symphony Orchestra, and serves as Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Orchestra Studies at Valdosta State University. Under his leadership, the Valdosta Symphony was selected as the 2014 winner of the American Prize in Orchestral Performance (community division). He has performed with world-renowned artists such as Robert McDuffie, Simone Dinnerstein, Jennifer Frautschi, Wendy Warner, Rachel Barton Pine, Stanford Olsen, Alexander Ghindin, Alexander Schimpf, Katia Skanavi, Awadagin Pratt, Amy Schwartz Moretti, and the Empire Brass, and has introduced live classical music to thousands of children in the Southern Georgia region. He conducted the world premiere of James Oliverio’s Trumpet Concerto No. 1: World House, the U.S. premiere of Ned McGowan’s Concerto for iPad and Orchestra (Rotterdam Concerto 2), and has given the Georgia premieres of Fernande Decruck’s Sonata for Saxophone and Orchestra, several of the Debussy/Matthews Preludes, and Jonathan Bailey Holland’s Motor City Dance Mix. Hsu has appeared as a guest conductor with the Hartford (CT) Symphony Orchestra, Macon (GA) Symphony, New Britain (CT) Symphony, and Bronx (NY) Arts Ensemble. Hsu received his D.M.A. from the University of Connecticut, his M.M. from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and his B.S. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Visit for more information.