Friday, August 26, 2022

Fox Valley Symphony Youth Orchestra Welcomes Rachel Richards

Fox Valley Symphony Youth Orchestras (FVSYO) is delighted to announce Rachel Richards will be joining their team as Youth Orchestras Executive Director. Effective immediately, Richards will help lead three groups in the Youth program of Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra: Philharmonia, Concert, and Youth Orchestra. Their season is set to begin in September, and they are looking forward to another season of increasing education opportunities for music students in the Fox Valley region.

“I have witnessed the importance of creating memorable music experiences that promote lifelong learning and music-making,” says Richards, who has been a music educator in the Appleton Area School District since 2005. “The Fox Valley Youth Orchestra program serves as a powerful resource for the young musicians that currently participate and the generations that will follow.”

Richards is also a well-established fan of FVSO. “The Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra has remained near and dear to my heart since my youngest years,” says Richards. “Attending concerts served as my first exposure to live orchestral music and demonstrated what could be accomplished when a community comes together with a shared purpose.”

For more information on Youth Orchestra auditions, visit

About Rachel Richards:

Rachel Richards has a Bachelor of Music from St. Norbert College and a Master of Arts in Education from Marian University. She is currently the Orchestra teacher in Appleton Area School District and teaches at Wilson Middle School, Highlands Elementary, and Odyssey/Magellan Magnet School. 

Her conducting experience also includes New Horizons Music Fox Valley Orchestra and Oshkosh Youth Symphony’s Philharmonia program. Richards is the volunteer coordinator for All City Strings Festival, an annual event in Appleton.

Richards is a bass and bassoon player and performs regularly with Green Bay Civic Symphony and the Appleton City Band. She has also performed with the Weidner Philharmonic, Sheboygan Symphony, Kimberly Theatre Program, UW Fox Valley Theater Program, St. Norbert College Community Band, VENTO Winds, Wisconsin Symphonic Winds, and UW Fox Valley Band.

Richards’ awards include a Marshall Moss Endowed Scholarship and a Tony Winters Instrumental Music Award from St. Norbert College.

About the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra: 

The Symphony's mission is to build bridges of accessibility to orchestra music and to make a positive impact on the lives of everyone in our community. 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 Dr. Mark Dupere conducting Youth Orchestra, Greg Austin conducting Concert Orchestra, and Adam Brown conducting Philharmonia. Youth Orchestras serve students from middle school through high school and accept students from all regions of the Fox Valley. There are full scholarships available for all three youth groups.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

"Fòs Nou" by Christopher Ducasse and the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra


We are excited to share this performance with you from our April 2022 concert at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. Music Director Dr. Kevin Suetterlin leads the full Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra in their season finale, which started with this amazing piece.


"Fòs Nou" is a Haitian Creole title that translates to "Our Strength". This composition by Christopher Ducasse for the Full orchestra was commissioned by Dr. Kevin Suetterlin and April Ann Brock as a gift to the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra, in honor of Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma.

Fòs Nou is a mixture of western European classical music and Haitian Folk Rhythm. The core rhythm of Fòs nou is the "Yanvalou". Yanvalou, a Rhythm, and Dance of Haiti get its name after its associated movements. It is one of the most important rhythms in Haitian folklore, it is sometimes linked to "Knowledge", "Patience", "Healing" and "Strength".

With a combination of epic sound and Yanvalou, Fòs Nou expresses the strength and power that we can demonstrate when we work together. All the good we can bring to the world, and all the greatness that we can achieve. Inspired by the National Mantra of The Republic of Haiti which says "L'union fait la force" (Unity is Strength).


A native of Port-au-Prince Haiti, Christopher attended Holy Trinity Music School where he learned voice, violin, and piano. Christopher became a member of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Holy Trinity in 2007 and conducted their main choir "Les Petits Chanteurs" for three years beginning in 2011. He was a BLUME HAITI Scholar in the Haitian student exchange program at Lawrence University in 2015, and in 2017 he joined Silver Lake College of the Holy Family to get a Bachelor in Choral in Music Education. Christopher is currently getting a master’s in music in Choral Conducting at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

Christopher was the Winner of the WCDA Conducting Competition in 2018. He has also composed vocal and instrumental pieces that have been performed by various groups, most notably Petits Chanteurs and the Philharmonic Orchestra of Holy Trinity Music School, the Lawrence University Cello Ensemble, and the Silver Lake College of the Holy Family Chorale. Christopher sings baritone, in addition, to play piano and violin, and does some photography as a hobby.

Learn more at his website:

Monday, June 20, 2022

FVSO Set for Summer Auditions!

The Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Dr. Kevin Sütterlin will audition for the following positions for the 2022-23 season.

Section Violin 

Assistant Principal Horn

Auditions will be held on Sunday, July 17, 2022, at Lawrence University’s Music/Drama Building, Shattuck #46 in Appleton, WI. The times will be between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm. Please contact the Fox Valley Symphony Personnel Manager (info below) for additional audition information.

Resumes must be sent by July 10, 2022.

General Audition Information

All resumes will be considered. Following receipt of your materials, we will email you detailed information regarding the audition process. An excerpt list will be provided. Audition times will be assigned after your registration is received.

To reserve a time slot for an audition, please provide the following information.

• Single page resume

• Contact information including address, phone, and email

Send all materials to:

Fox Valley Symphony Personnel Manager

The Fox Valley Symphony performs 5-8 subscription concerts and other daytime and evening services. Our performance venue is the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Dr. Kevin Sütterlin Renews Contract with Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra


Appleton, WI – The Fox Valley Symphony Orchestras (FVSO) is delighted to announce Dr. Kevin Sütterlin renewed his contract as Music Director for another three years, starting with the 2022-23 season.

Photo: by Graham Washatka

Sütterlin became music director and conductor of the ensemble in 2019 after the departure of Brian Groner, who had been with the orchestra for 25 years.

Dr. Sütterlin is currently Director of Orchestral Activities and Opera at Concordia College, co-Music Director of Sinfonietta Memphis, Principal Guest Conductor of the Qingdao Concert Hall Symphony in China, Director of Orchestra and Conducting Studies at Lutheran Summer Music, and Artistic Director of the Northern Valley Youth Orchestras (Full bio is below).

FVSO musicians received the news during their March concert cycle, and Concertmaster Yuliya Smead commented, “His musicality and enthusiasm is contagious, and he makes rehearsals and performances incredibly enjoyable. Kevin creates a unified ensemble while still respecting the individuality of each player. I am really looking forward to many years of wonderful music making under his baton.”

“Kevin has an innate sense of how to guide the orchestra to their best performance while also telling a story to our audience with each piece,” says Executive Director Jamie LaFreniere. “His focus on diverse composers and guest artists allows us to make everyone feel represented and welcome as he continues to build bridges through music. It has been wonderful to see people respond to him on the stage, in the hall, and in our community.”

“In his short tenure, Kevin has demonstrated remarkable leadership,” says Mike Lokensgard, FVSO Board President. “The ensemble has rarely sounded better, and his selection of repertoire has been exactly what we need to attract a new generation of audience members. We are lucky to have him and are eager to see and hear what the Symphony will be able to achieve over the next three years under his guidance.”

For more information on the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra, visit

About Dr. Kevin Sütterlin:

Dr. Kevin F.E. Sütterlin is an internationally sought-after conductor and pedagogue. He belongs to Beyond Artists, a coalition of artists that donates a percentage of their concert fees to organizations they care about. He supports “WIRES” (Australian Wildlife Rescue) and the “Memphis Music Initiative” through his performances.

Sütterlin is Director of Orchestral Activities and Opera at Concordia College, where he and his colleagues received two EMMY awards for 2016’s nationally broadcast Concordia Christmas Concert productions. The Concordia Orchestra won the prestigious American Prize competition in 2018-19 under his leadership. Sütterlin is Music Director of the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra since 2019 and Co-Music Director of Sinfonietta Memphis since 2014, an ensemble that provides free concerts and educational experiences for the Greater Memphis communities. Perhaps the only orchestra in the U.S. with a co-music directorship model, Sinfonietta Memphis’s conductors Dr. Mathias Elmer and Sütterlin proudly represent the orchestra’s credo: friendship through music. They also co-direct The Sinfonietta Academy for Historically Informed Performance Practice which was recently recognized as one of the country’s leading period performance practice institutes. In 2019, Sütterlin was named Principal Guest Conductor of the Qingdao Concert Hall Symphony in China, and in 2021 Honorary Conductor of K-Classic Orchestras, a Korean organization dedicated to contributing to world peace through musical and cultural exchange. With a great love and passion for teaching, Sütterlin is also Artistic Director of the Northern Valley Youth Orchestras and holds The Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Endowed Orchestra Chair of the Lutheran Summer Music Academy and Festival, directing the organization’s orchestral and conducting programs.

Considering himself a “citizen of the world,” Sütterlin has been building musical bridges across four different continents and has led his ensembles on many successful national and international tours. He has performed and taught across the globe including Austria, China, Germany, Greece, Italy, Romania, Slovenia, Switzerland, and the United States. He has taught at Shanghai Conservatory, Sichuan Conservatory, University of Cape Town, University of Hawaii, Lucerne Conservatory Switzerland, University of Memphis, and Virginia Tech University. Highlights of his upcoming guest conducting season include engagements with the National Opera of Chile Chamber Orchestra, Namibia National Symphony Orchestra, Brescia Music Festival Italy, Fargo-Moorhead Opera, and Arizona State University. Sütterlin received his doctorate and master’s degrees in orchestral conducting from The University of Memphis and a bachelor’s degree in conducting from the Hochschule Luzern-Musik, Switzerland.

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.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Student Review #3: March 12, 2022 Concert

We asked some of our fabulous Lawrence University students to join us at the March 12 concert and share their thoughts. Our next reviewer is Malcolm Davis. Thank you, Malcolm! 

I always enjoy going to FVSO concerts, and the March 12th concert was no different. The program had a great mixture of new, under-performed, and symphonic classics. The opening work, Louise Farrenc’s Overture No. 1 in E Minor was an exciting piece of music.  I can appreciate knowing that when I attend an FVSO concert, I will have left listening to music I haven’t heard before such as Farrenc’s overture, or Jessie Montgomery’s Soul Force. This is what makes the Fox Valley Symphony unique and stand out among its’ peers.  

Friday, March 18, 2022

Student Review #2: March 12, 2022 Concert

We asked some of our fabulous Lawrence University students to join us at the March 12 concert and share their thoughts. Our next reviewer is Kathryn Williams. Thank you, Kathryn! 

It was simply a refreshing and fun experience watching the Fox Valley Symphony. I loved looking through the program and seeing so many familiar names playing in the orchestra while excitedly searching and pointing them out to friends. 

It is amazing how the Fox Valley Symphony is able to bring all different parts of the community together on stage, including music and non-music staff at Lawrence, our local luthier, family members of friends, and my former theory professor! 

I just wish I was standing at the right place post-concert to say hello to more members! I love how we were able to hear from concertmaster Yulia Smead talk about her own experiences at the pre-concert talk, 

I hope that there will be more opportunities to hear from other members because the diverse musical backgrounds of individuals is something that makes the Fox Valley Symphony so special.

Student Review #1: March 12, 2022 Concert

We asked some of our fabulous Lawrence University students to join us at the March 12 concert and share their thoughts. Our first reviewer is Gabe Roethle. Thank you, Gabe! 

It's quite refreshing to see and hear a symphonic program where underrepresented pieces and composers are given as time and attention as the "big greats." It is too easy for an orchestra to meet the quota of a single short piece by a minority composer shoved in some corner of the program to leave room for the familiar works. 

It is evident that Maestro Sütterlin​, from his pre-concert talk to his on-stage notes to his energetic conducting, cares less about satisfying and more about provoking; provoking new ways to think about new and old music. 

I was very pleased to hear that next season the orchestra would be performing an entire symphony by the 19th century French composer Louise Farrenc, whose Overture No.1 in E minor the orchestra performed in this concert. 

Maestro Sütterlin​ did not shy away from stating plainly and simply why works by composers who were not white men had been neglected by the world of classical music for so long, and the way he spoke about and directed the three pieces on the first half of the program (by Louise Farrenc, Jessie Montgomery, and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor) shows his and the orchestra's dedication to changing the narrative of the world of classical music.

As a young, aspiring violinist, I feel obliged also to comment on the orchestra's performance of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, which was every bit as enchanting as the stories on which it was based. Concertmaster Yuliya Smead played each of her many solos with cool but ever-virtuosic flair. It was a delight to follow along with the cadenzas that were part of my audition excerpts for summer festivals. 

I can attest to the comfort of familiarity that this performance offered, although its placement after the thought-provoking (though no less beautiful!) first half made me listen to the piece in a different way.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Beethoven at The Core!

Our maestro is very excited to start our Beethoven cycle, and what better way to start than at one of our community concerts for just $10? We want to share this music with everyone in our community and we hope you can join us at The Core on March 1.

The music is joyful and enthusiastic, and EXACTLY what we need as we enter spring after two rather stressful years. We can't wait to celebrate this music with you.

Purchase your tickets now! Seating is limited.

Our very own Erik Leveille from our violin section is also happy to share some notes on the piece. Erik writes program notes for our Ovation books at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center for our season concerts, so we are honored he took some time to do the same for our community series.

FVSO at the Core

Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21 

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Forget all of the images of Beethoven that come to mind- the tragically deaf genius, ill-tempered and mannered, shaking his fist at fate and the universe- when approaching his optimistic and confident 1st symphony. Beethoven was not quite 30 in 1799 and 1800 when he composed it in Vienna, having escaped a miserable home life in Bonn in 1792 to study with Franz Josef Haydn. He had previously attempted a symphony in 1795 but abandoned it, mindful of the towering examples set by his teacher and the departed Mozart, instead steadily building up a collection of outstanding works, including his Op. 18 string quartets and the “Pathetique” piano sonata. When he set his pen to composing a symphony again in 1799, it came much more easily. The work was premiered in Vienna in April of 1800, along with works of Haydn and Mozart.

The introductory Adagio molto begins with a witty harmonic joke that escapes modern ears; woodwinds and pizzicato strings intone a series of chords in the “wrong” key, and there isn’t a “proper” root position C chord (C in the bass) until a downward rush of notes in the violins introduces the crisp, martial theme of the Allegro con brio (this theme features six C’s in four measures and ends with a C major arpeggio, just in case we didn’t get the joke) which unfolds in standard sonata form with some Beethovenian touches- brusque sforzandos and highly independent use of the woodwinds. The lyrical second theme is ingeniously accompanied by an arpeggiated figure that echoes that of the first theme. An energetic development section is followed by a recapitulation that states the first theme in a vigorous fortissimo rather than its initial piano. The surprisingly brisk Andante cantabile con moto seems to be a loving homage to the Andante moment of Mozart’s 40th symphony, as the first theme echoes the rhythm and imitative voices of that masterpiece, albeit in a much lighter and insouciant tone. Delicate punctuation from the trumpets and timpani add unusual color and Beethoven continues his harmonic adventurousness by modulating to the remote key of Db, a ploy he will revisit in the following Menuetto. The Menuetto, a whirlwind Allegro molto e vivace, sets off with a rising scale that will feature prominently in the final movement. More harmonic surprises are in store as Beethoven veers into Ab and then Db major before lurching back into C, where he sets up a tug of war between the notes Db and D natural. The much calmer Trio features a repetitive theme in the woodwinds accompanied by liquid eighth notes in the strings. The finale opens again with a joke; after a grand chord, the violins tentatively climb up a scale, adding one more note each time, before rocketing up the scale all at once inn a brilliant mirror of the first movement, thus beginning the Allegro molto e vivace that bubbles with Haydnesque wit and energy. The development features more bold harmonic changes and brilliant counterpoint, and the recapitulation and coda bring this early masterpiece to an exuberant conclusion.