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.

Monday, June 20, 2016

FREE Community Concert Coming Up July 1

Beethoven returns to the ballpark on Friday, July 1.  The Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra will hold their second annual Brats, Beer, & Beethoven event at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium on Friday, July 1 at 7:30pm.  The event, presented by Fox Communities Credit Union, is FREE and open to the public.

“We can’t believe we get to do this again and we can’t thank the Timber Rattlers enough for our partnership! This concert is the perfect way for us to start our 50th season,” said Jamie Lafreniere, Executive Director of the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra. “We get to celebrate a beautiful night of music with our musicians and the community in this amazing outdoor space. With the support of our sponsors, Fox Communities Credit Union, Neuroscience Group, CommunityFoundation for the Fox Valley Region, and Tundraland, this is a free event and we hope it makes it possible for everyone to attend, enjoy the music, and even see fireworks at the end of the night. We’re also proud to bring the MacDowell Male Chorus and Fox Valleyaires to the concert this year; the more music the better!”

Parking and admission to the event are free.  The parking lot opens at 5:00pm with the gates to the stadium opening at 6:00pm.  The concert is scheduled to start at 7:30pm and fireworks to follow at 9:00pm.

“We’re extremely excited to host the free concert again following the unbelievable success from last year,” said
Aaron Hahn, the Timber Rattlers vice president and assistant general manager.  “It’s a great way to kick off the holiday weekend and an opportunity to see an amazing group of performers for FREE!”

There will also be a donation drive for musical instruments at two events at the ballpark.  Donate a new or used instrument OR money to go towards the purchase of an instrument to give all children the opportunity to play a musical instrument!

Donations will be accepted at the Timber Rattlers game on Sunday, June 26 when the Rattlers host the Quad Cities River Bandits at 1:05pm.  Be one of the first 1,000 fans to attend this game and you will receive a Cory Chisel Bobblehead.

Fans may also donate to the instrument drive at Brats, Beer & Beethoven on Friday, June 1.  Donations may be tax deductible.

This collection is made possible by the collaborative efforts of Fox Communities Credit UnionWisconsin Timber RattlersCory Chisel, and The Refuge.

“At Fox Communities Credit Union we say “Make Life Happen”, and we are excited to be a part of this event to help more people enjoy the sounds of the Fox Valley Symphony, especially kids,” said Lynn Marie Hopfensperger, Community Development Officer at Fox Communities Credit Union.  “Fox is happy to be able to make life happen for all of the talented artists we have in the area, we are so rich in the arts, we’re proud to be a small part of this.”

Seating for Brats, Beer, and Beethoven is first-come-first-serve and food and beverages will be available for purchase from the concessions stands at the ballpark.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Our Special Young Guest Artist

When you meet a young lady like Masha Lakisova it is an amazing event.  

About a year and half ago a good friend of mine, violinist Michael Shelton, heard Masha play.  He sent me an email saying that he had heard what he described as "the real deal".  Michael is not one to speak glowingly about someone unless he truly means it.  He has very keen ears and high expectations.  

After checking out a couple of YouTube videos of her playing I made arrangements to hear Masha at her teacher's recital.  She played the Schumann Sonata, with her mother Lyudmila (a brilliant pianist).  Needless to say it was stunning.  

After the recital I stayed around a bit to chat and found Masha and her family to be wonderful people.  They are so proud of what Masha is doing. 

Since then we have worked together several times.  Masha has won even more competitions and has been featured on NPR's "From The Top". 

I am thankful that my friend Michael brought this amazing young woman to my attention and am honored to be able to share her gifts with our wonderful audience.

Brian Groner
Music Director
Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra

Join us this Saturday, January 23, 2016 for this special performance!
Masha will perform Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D major with the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra.

Purchase your tickets online now.