Monday, November 20, 2023

FVSO Wins 2023 American Prize


Fox Valley Symphony Orchestras was named winner of the 2023 American Prize for Orchestral Performance in the professional division.

The win comes on the heels of another American Prize victory. Earlier this year, Music Director Kevin Sütterlin won second place for Conducting in the professional division of the American Prize. The two awards are the first time the American Prize has honored Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra.

“In the American Prize, we competed against many organizations from across the country, some with significantly larger budgets and seasons than ours,” said Sütterlin. “I hope our musicians are as proud as I am of our work together over the past five 

years. To be selected as the winner is a huge deal, and such a big honor. It’s time to celebrate!”

Executive Director Jamie LaFreniere said, “I am so proud of the efforts put in across the board. Our musicians rise to the challenge each time they are on stage, playing not only difficult standard repertoire but also new compositions which can be very difficult.”

Sütterlin agrees, adding, “I truly believe that the varied and diverse programming has helped us become a better orchestra. We have performed music from such a vast background, with extremely wide ranging technical and musical challenges. We have been finetuning our existing colors, experimented with entirely new color and sound palettes, deepened our rich string sound, have improved our rhythmic integrity, widened our dynamic range, researched various styles, elevated our expressiveness, and focused on making music with a purpose—always. Rehearsals are always hard work, but also always a lot of fun.”

Outside of rehearsals, FVSO puts a strong emphasis on building community within the Fox Cities communities. “Building a culture of trust, kindness, care, and grace allows us all to go deep,” says Sütterlin. “Only if we go deep can we present music that is true, and genuine, and powerful. This prestigious international award validates all of our hard work and confirms that we’re on the right path!”


Wednesday, October 25, 2023

FVSO November 11, 2023 FULL Program Notes

FVSO November 11, 2023 FULL Program Notes

Notes written by Erik Leveille and Kevin Sütterlin

Festive Overture: William Grant Still (1895-1978)

William Grant Still, who became known as ‘the Dean of African American composers,’ was born in Mississippi, raised by his mother and grandmother in Little Rock, and initially pursued a degree in medicine at Wilberforce College in Ohio before embarking on a career in music. His training and early professional experiences were eclectic; he studied first at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, spent time in New York City as both an arranger for bandleader Paul Whiteman and blues master W.C. Handy as well as an oboist in Broadway pit orchestras. Still returned to formal studies at the New England Conservatory where he was mentored by the traditionalist George Whitefield Chadwick and the avant-garde sensation Edgard Varèse.

Still went on to a career distinguished by multiple firsts. He was the first African American to have both a symphony and an opera premiered by professional American orchestras, and in 1936 he took to the podium as a guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The Festive Overture was completed in December of 1944, and was written for a composition contest. The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra was celebrating its 50th anniversary by inviting composers across the country to submit celebratory concert overtures for consideration by their panel of judges, which consisted of Cincinnati’s music director Eugene Goossens (himself a composer), renowned conductor Pierre Monteux, and composer, writer, and critic Deems Taylor. Still’s charming, optimistic work won unanimously, earning him the CSO’s Jubilee Prize and a $1000 war bond, and was premiered the following month.

A fanfare of brass and percussion ushers in the amiable principal theme in which the violins lope and glide unhurriedly over the bar lines. Playful muted trumpets and interjections from the glockenspiel and tambourine add color and contrast. A new theme, begun in the lower strings, is more songful and yearning, and features a lyrical solo for violin. Still follows classical sonata form by developing both themes in a terse development, and the delightful recapitulation gives a star turn to the xylophone before reaching its affirmative, brassy conclusion.

These Worlds in Us
Missy Mazzoli (b. 1980)

“ occurred to me that, as we grow older, we accumulate worlds of intense memory within us, and that grief is often not far from joy. I like the idea that music can reflect painful and blissful sentiments in a single note or gesture.”

With that kernel of thought, composer Missy Mazzoli—one of the most acclaimed and performed composers of her generation, particularly in the world of opera—created These Worlds in Us, her first work for orchestra, which won the ASCAP Young Composers Award and Yale University’s Woods Chandler Prize. It was premiere by the Yale Philharmonia in March 2006.

The work was inspired by the poem “The Lost Pilot” by James Tate, and by her father, who was a soldier in the Vietnam War. An excerpt from the poem that resonates with Missy Mazzoli especially in the creation of this work follows:

My head cocked towards the sky,

I cannot get off the ground,

and you, passing over again,

fast, perfect and unwilling

to tell me that you are doing

well, or that it was a mistake

that placed you in that world,

and me in this; or that misfortune

placed these worlds in us.

Even in this early work, Mazzoli’s wide-ranging musical experiences and influences – from classical training to punk and electronica and Balinese gamelan music – find voice in unique orchestral colors as diverse as a melancholy yet lovely melody in the violins (the anchor of the work) which continually dissolves into long, keening glissandos (slides, produced by continuously sliding a finger up or down on a single string), as if the tune itself is disintegrating; vibraphone reverberations blending with the reedy sighs of melodicas, and underneath all, a percussive pulse that at times consciously invokes military cadences yet above all conveys a sense of subtle restless urgency.

A Lincoln Portrait
Aaron Copland (1900-1990)

Aaron Copland is so revered as the quintessential voice of traditional American classical music—the heartland and prairie translated into those wide-spaced, open harmonies, and infectiously folky-yet-spiky rhythms—that it’s easy to forget how unlikely a figure he was to assume that role. A star pupil of the legendary Parisian teacher of composition Nadia Boulanger in the ‘20s, Copland was the son of Jewish immigrants, a gay man, and after returning to the United States in the 1930s and witnessing the plight of his fellow Americans during the Great Depression, a person of considerable socialist political leanings (he supported the American Communist Party’s presidential candidate in 1936). Copland’s political sympathies, in fact, informed his change of musical language to one that included the harmonies, rhythms, and melodic style of the Americas.

Copland is so ensconced in our national cultural firmament that it is easy to forget his worldview ran him afoul of Wisconsin’s own notorious red-baiting senator, Joseph McCarthy. The work featured on tonight’s program was to be performed at the 1953 inauguration of Dwight Eisenhower, until a congressman from Illinois recalled Copland’s political leanings. The performance was canceled, and Copland found himself hauled not once, but twice in front of McCarthy’s Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in May of that year. Copland skillfully parried the questioning but continued to be hounded for another two years by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, until it was finally decided there was insufficient evidence with which to charge him.

This anecdote sheds light on the origin of A Lincoln Portrait. In 1942, conductor Andre Kostelanetz commissioned Copland, Virgil Thomson, and Jerome Kern to all write patriotic works as America plunged into World War II. Copland originally wanted to set his work to the words of that great chronicler and poet of the Civil War, Walt Whitman, but when Kostelanetz suggested a political figure, he settled on the other great wordsmith of the era, the sixteenth president of the United States. Viewed in the light of Copland’s beliefs in a society that focused on the well-being of ‘the common man,’ A Lincoln Portrait is not only a clarion call against the fascism that engulfed Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, but a summons for this nation to live up to its highest ideals.

As to the piece itself, Copland’s own admirably direct and succinct notes for a performance by the Boston Symphony are perhaps the most appropriate: "The first sketches were made in February, and the portrait finished on 16 April 1942. I worked with musical materials of my own with the exception of two songs of the period: the famous 'Camptown Races' which, when used by Lincoln supporters during his Presidential campaign of 1860, was sung to the words, 'We're bound to work all night, bound to work all day. I'll bet my money on the Lincoln hoss…,' and a ballad that was first published in 1840 under the title 'The Pesky Sarpent,' but it is better known today as 'Springfield Mountain.' In neither case is the treatment a literal one. The tunes are used freely in the manner of my use of cowboy songs in Billy the Kid. The composition is roughly divided into three main sections. In the opening section I wanted to suggest something of the mysterious sense of fatality that surrounds Lincoln's personality. Also, near the end of that section, something of his gentleness and simplicity of spirit. The quick middle section briefly sketches in the background of the times he lived. This merges into the concluding section where my sole purpose was to draw a simple but impressive frame about the words of Lincoln himself."

Symphony #3 in E-flat Major, “Eroica”, Op. 55
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

“I am far from satisfied with my past works: from today on I shall take a new way.”

Beethoven’s pupil Carl Czerny recounted these words of his mentor to his close friend, violinist and mandolinist Václav Krumpholz in 1802. That was a year of crisis and transformation for Beethoven; while he had completed his sunny and good-humored Second Symphony, his ever-worsening hearing drove him to the brink of despair, and he even contemplated suicide. In his famed “Heiligenstadt Testament” written to his brothers Karl and Johann in October of that year, Beethoven poured out his grief and desolation that he, THE composer and piano virtuoso of the moment, the one who was seen in Vienna as the sole worthy heir to the aged Haydn and the deceased Mozart, dreaded human interaction because he couldn’t hear a shepherd singing and piping in the distance, and could scarcely follow along in a spirited discussion, lest his dread and secret malady be revealed, to his shame and humiliation. Beethoven confesses that were it not for his art, he would have ended his life. He emerged from this emotional abyss scarred but determined not to relinquish his life until he had expressed the entirety of his creative impulse.

Beethoven began work on his third symphony shortly after he emerged from this trial by fire. He was a fervent adherent to the French Republican ideals of “Liberté, Fraternité, Égalite,” and the embodiment of those principals in the dawn of the 19th century on the Continent was the military genius, Napoleon Bonaparte. Beethoven no doubt liked to see himself as a peer of Bonaparte—a man of the future who would transform society. Beethoven called his new symphony “Buonaparte,” but when the great man (predictably) declared himself emperor in 1804, Beethoven flew into a rage and scratched out Bonaparte’s name with such fury that one can see the holes in the paper in the surviving manuscript. His new dedication was penned “to the memory of a great man.”

The autobiographical and socio-political aspects of this landmark work, however, tend to overshadow the true revolutionary character of the “Eroica,” which is the music itself. Critics and audience members who attended its premiere in April 1805 at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna were left startled, perplexed, and vexed. The most sympathetic critics acknowledged the sheer audacious genius of what they had just heard, but fretted that Herr Beethoven was hopelessly overtaxing the ears and attention spans of his listeners. No wonder—the “Eroica” is twice the length of most symphonies at the time (one wag in the gallery seats at the premiere catcalled, “I’ll pay another Kreuzer if only the thing will stop”), thematically and contrapuntally dense, dissonant, and brash in affect.

Beethoven ushers in his ‘new way’ from the opening two measures; whereas his first and second symphonies opened with Haydnesque slow introductions, this work launches into action with two bracing E-flat major chords before introducing the most unlikely of heroic themes—the cellos introduce a pleasant but somewhat prosaic tune that is really nothing more than the outlining of an E-flat major arpeggio (three or more notes all belonging to the same harmony being played one after the other) while the upper strings tap out a Classical-era accompaniment … until the fifth measure. The cellos drop to a ‘wrong’ C#-sharp, and the first violins respond with an insistent, syncopated rhythm on G. That moment, which is both harmonically and rhythmically dissonant, opens the wormhole by which Beethoven expands the proportions of the first movement of a symphony beyond the scope of anything previously conceived. The titanic development section features a new melody in the distant key of E minor, rhythmic distortions that nearly fracture the sense of the triple meter in which the movement is written, and most famously, the horns recapitulating the primary theme two measures early (you are welcome to imagine the whole orchestra’s subsequent fortissimo chastisement of their ‘wayward’ colleagues as No! NO! NOW!!!). The recapitulation resolves the C#-sharp tension by presenting the theme in the enharmonic (same sounding) key of D-flat, and the concluding coda is really a new development section, but the concluding measures end in confident affirmation.

The following Adagio is marked “Marcia funebre”; contemporaries of Beethoven’s, François-Joseph Gossec and Luigi Cherubini had written similar movements inspired by the French Revolution, but Beethoven was the first one to include such a movement as part of a formal symphony. Over double basses imitating a military drum cadence, the strings intone a solemn lament in Beethoven’s “fate” key of C minor which is subsequently taken up by the oboe. Brief attempts towards consolation are interrupted by anguished and vehement cries. True relief is afforded in a contrasting section in C major which is alternatively comforting and ceremonially heroic. The return of the funeral march is interrupted by a massive, striving fugue (a musical composition in which one or two themes are repeated or imitated by successively entering voices and contrapuntally developed in a continuous interweaving of the parts), and the conclusion of the movement is truly extraordinary. The march theme itself is broken up into fragments and interrupted by gasping pauses, as if the music itself is dying.

The third movement is only the second time that Beethoven marks “Scherzo” (joke) instead of “Minuetto,” the old courtly dance that had been a mainstay of Baroque dance suites and featured regularly in the symphonies of Haydn and Mozart and their contemporaries (the first time being his Symphony No. 2). Beethoven labeled the third movement of his symphony as a minuet, although he already changed the character from stately to frenetic and fleet-footed. As with the rest of the “Eroica,” here he expands a dance form into proportions previously unimagined. The movement begins almost inaudibly, with the strings introducing something of a pianissimo Morse code between two alternating notes. Out of this emerges a melody in the oboe, first piping persistently on one note, then running down a scale, then lilting to its end. This odd tune is presented again before suddenly roaring from pianissimo to fortissimo (in one measure!) in the entire orchestra, modified with hemiolas (Beethoven shifts the sense of the meter from ONE-two-three to one-TWO-three). The Classical Menuetto was always contrasted with a Trio section, and Beethoven adheres to that structure, but here, the Trio is heralded by a trio of noble hunting horns (the first Beethoven symphony that uses more than two horns), which are complemented with cantering strings and meanderings in the woodwinds. The return of the scherzo is interrupted by Beethoven mischievously breaking into duple meter for four measures, and a final coda ends in fortissimo triumph.

The character of the final movement of a symphony changed as the form evolved; at first, it was barely an afterthought—a light frippery after the more substantive movements that proceeded it. By the time Mozart penned his final three symphonies, the finale had accrued significantly more weight, with the last movement of his Symphony No. 41 concluding in a blaze of glory with the most complex counterpoint that had ever been written for a symphony orchestra at that time. For his symphony written in a ‘new way’, Beethoven turned to the theme and variation form, one that would serve him well for the rest of his artistic life.

In 1801, he had written a simple contradance that he featured in the Finale of his ballet music for The Creatures of Prometheus. He liked that tune well enough to use it for a set of piano variations and it became the clay out of which Beethoven shaped the apotheosis of his new symphony. It had the added benefit of an association with a kind of self-sacrificing heroism- Prometheus, after all, was the demigod in Greek mythology who took pity on the plight of humanity and stole fire from heaven to warm and light the way for his fellow creatures. Quite a contrast from the self-declared hero of the Revolution who revealed himself to be just another self-aggrandizing tyrant.

Beethoven adds his own rough, brusque humor into the mix—a rumbustious, querulous introduction leads to a pregnant pause, and that much ado turns out to be about … not much. Pizzicato (plucked) strings introduce a comically bare skeleton of a theme, that then engages in a back-and-forth echoing with the woodwinds before being punctuated by three crisp notes in the winds, brass, and timpani. In the third variation, we finally realize the big joke – the theme is in fact just the bass line for the melody which we now hear, and from there, Beethoven unleashes his formidable skills with an extended fugato section and then to a gloriously swaggering march in the Hungarian style, a trick he no doubt learned from his former mentor Haydn. Another tremendous climax is reached, but then Beethoven casts aside all joking and bravura. In the next set of variations marked Poco Andante, the contradance theme is imbued with poignancy, tenderness, and pathos. In his Heiligenstadt Testament, Beethoven laments to his brothers that he is heartbroken that they and others perceive him to be angry and misanthropic, and that despite his demeanor he wished nothing more than to do good, and these measures convey this yearning and aspiration perfectly. The final coda erupts in Beethovenian joy – horns triumphantly call and whoop over a veritable beehive of exuberant tremolos (the rapid repetition of a musical tone to produce a trembling, wavering sound) in the strings, and a series of resonant chords that echo the opening of the symphony brings this symphony’s questing spirit to its emphatic conclusion.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

FVSO Opening Night set for September 23, 2023

Bringing New Orleans jazz to your Fox Cities P.A.C. on September 23, it’s The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass with the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra. The Music Director of the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra, Dr. Kevin Sütterlin and Rodney Marsalis, the founder/CEO of Marsalis Mansion Artists and The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass share their excitement about the upcoming collaborative performance and talk about the power of music to unite people.

CLICK HERE: Purchase your tickets to The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia with the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra 7:30 p.m. performance on September 23 here.

"This is our opening night concert, so we can’t wait to be back at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. Whether this is your first time or your twentieth year with us, we hope you will join us for future performances. I look forward to seeing you all season long!" - KEVIN SÜTTERLIN – Music Director

The Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra has been since the beginning, a Resident Partner to the Fox Cities P.A.C., co-presenting with the Center on numerous public performances featuring world-class talent over the years. Kevin’s first concert with the orchestra was on May 11, 2019, coming on board as the music director that summer.

Many of us have an idea in our heads when someone mentions the word “orchestra.” Kevin and the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra are looking to expand and surpass expectations, offering something new and unexpected each performance. “That’s what concerts and live performances are all about,” Kevin remarked. “For us, it feels different every single time it is played, even after a week’s worth of rehearsal. Music is alive and should be experienced in the moment.”

Kevin commented on the September 23 performance, saying, “As with most of our collaborations, it started with a mutual connection! Our principal tuba, Marty Erickson, works with Rodney and tours with his group.” He added, “Marty, who was a soloist last season, told me about the performances and how much fun the music was for these concerts, and I couldn’t wait to add it to our season.” This collaboration with the big brass band is introducing audiences to new kind of musical experience, uniting lovers of classical music and jazz. “We love taking the orchestra in new directions, and this gives us a chance to perform music we otherwise would never get to play,” Kevin remarked. “We also love to surprise our audience with something new! Our musicians love exploring new music and performing with new guest artists, and every time, everyone on stage learns something new and comes away with new understandings.”

Audiences are sure to enjoy a concert experience filled with high energy. “When you think of New Orleans jazz, you may think of a small ensemble performing, but imagine that same energy shared with a full orchestra,” Kevin elaborated. “I can’t wait to hear this sound in Thrivent Hall. We will play a few classical pieces on our own, and then many with Rodney’s group when we get together. We’re hoping the audience loves the mix we have in store for them.”

A mix it’ll be, as Kevin also mentioned that there is a special new piece that he commissioned for the orchestra from composer Christopher Ducasse. Frequent Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra patrons may know the name Christopher Ducasse as the orchestra has played the music before. “I won’t know what my favorite piece is until I hear us play together for the first time,” Kevin said. “There is something magical about that interaction and you never know what new places the music and the musicians will take us. Our two groups together will make this a memorable and exciting night of music.”

The other side of making September 23 an incredible night of music is The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass, led by the founder and CEO of the ensemble and Marsalis Mansion Artists LLC, Rodney Marsalis. The group was formed more than 35 years ago playing on the streets of New Orleans in the French Quarters. As the big brass group travels internationally, Rodney is responsible for helping to guide the musical direction and to build connections for the other artists on the roster. The musicians in the ensemble are just as equally proficient in classical as they are in jazz styles. As Rodney explained, classical musicians were expected to have excellent improvisational skills. Even for musicians today, music should always be performed differently each time, so it’s never the same way twice. “You are spontaneously creating music, and that is what makes a connection with any audience, no matter what genre you are performing.”

“I love seeing new connections being made between people,” Rodney shared when talking about his favorite part of being in an ensemble. “We put people from all walks of life onstage and perform for people all around the world. Music is music. If it is inspiring and has soulfulness any genre, classical, jazz, pop, rock, blues, etc., can reach any audience and move them to tears or inspire them to dance.”

"There is an imaginary barrier that we draw around each other as human beings and the arts help to dissolve those false barriers and highlight our common humanity. Music has a unique ability to unite individuals from diverse backgrounds, cultures and beliefs. By showcasing the rich tapestry of human emotions, we strive to foster a sense of unity, empathy and understanding among our audiences." - RODNEY MARSALIS – FOUNDER/CEO THE RODNEY MARSALIS PHILADELPHIA BIG BRASS AND MARSALIS MANSON ARTISTS LLC

Using the power of music, Rodney and his big brass group actively work to reach the youth by providing mentorship and opportunities to work with young musicians, showing that they are so much more than a musical ensemble. Rodney commented, “During our residencies and performances, we dedicate time to engage with students and offer valuable guidance and inspiration. By sharing our own journeys and experiences, we hope to ignite a spark within the next generation, encouraging them to pursue their dreams fearlessly.” They also connect with students from around the world by using technology and social media platforms to offer live streams, interactive workshops and engaging content. To Rodney, it’s important that The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass’ music is accessible to aspiring musicians globally. “We want to show them that with dedication, passion and a relentless pursuit of excellence, they can reach their goals,” he added.

For aspiring musicians, Rodney offered some words of encouragement: “First and foremost, believe in yourself and your capabilities. The journey of a musician is not always easy, but with resilience, determination, and a lifelong commitment to learning, you can overcome any obstacle. Never stop honing your craft.” He added that there needs to be a commitment to dedicating countless hours to practice, continual experimentation with diverse musical styles and genres, as well as an active pursuit of opportunities for growth and development. “Foster strong connections with fellow musicians and industry professionals; collaboration and networking can open doors to new opportunities.”

"Embrace the power of authenticity. In a world filled with noise and imitation, it is your unique voice and individuality that will set you apart. Stay true to yourself, embrace your strengths, and let your passion shine through your music." - RODNEY MARSALIS – FOUNDER/CEO THE RODNEY MARSALIS PHILADELPHIA BIG BRASS AND MARSALIS MANSON ARTISTS LLC

Speaking specifically to the September 23 performance alongside the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra, Rodney expressed how excited the ensemble is for the collaboration. “We are thrilled about this upcoming partnership,” Rodney said, adding, “One of our Associate Artists, Marty Erickson, has a long-time affiliation with Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra. We will feature him at the concert, and we will play many other pieces from different genres with the orchestra, adding a special New Orleans treat at the end. Oh, I think I have said too much! People will have to come to the show to see it!”

Rodney expressed that it is the group’s primary goal to leave a lasting impression on the audience, one that transcends the boundaries of time and place. “We hope that our performance ignites a spark of inspiration within each listener, uplift their spirits, and invigorate their love for music,” Rodney further commented. “Thank you to Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra for hosting us, and we look forward to working with them and meeting their audience!”

Written by Philomena Dorobek, Brand Storyteller

Fox Cities Performing Arts Center

Friday, July 7, 2023

FVSO Announces Dr. Luis Fernandez to Conduct Youth Orchestra

We are excited to announce that Dr. Luis Fernandez has been selected to lead the Youth Orchestra!

Maestro Fernandez comes to YO with an outstanding background as an educator, performer, and conductor. We have been fortunate to have him with us as our 1st violin coach in past seasons, a role that Maestro Fernandez plans to continue in addition to conducting.

We are excited to have his voice on our team and look forward to how YO will thrive under his leadership!

Luis Fernandez was born in Caracas, Venezuela, where he began violin and orchestra studies through the El Sistema music program.

After immigrating to the United States, he earned a Doctor of Musical Arts in instrumental performance and conducting at the University of Miami.

Dr. Fernandez has performed with many orchestras such as Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho Symphony Orchestra, Miami Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony, Florida Grand Opera, Miami City Ballet, Naples Philharmonic, Amarillo Symphony, and Lubbock Symphony (as associate concertmaster). Currently, he performs with Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra, Manitowoc Symphony Orchestra, and is concertmaster of the Weidner Philharmonic Orchestra.

Active as a teacher as well as a performer, Dr. Fernandez has been on the faculty of Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp (Michigan) since 2008 and has been invited to implement the teaching techniques of Venezuela’s renowned El Sistema in Bolivia, Cuba, Colombia, and Mexico. He was previously director of the violin program at St. Philip’s School (Coral Gables, FL), and served on the faculty of the Community Arts Program and of Greater Miami Youth Symphony. In 2013 he served as Assistant Professor of Violin at the University of Florida. He has taught general music at Valencia Elementary (Portales, NM), where he instituted an after-school strings program, and general music and strings at Badger Elementary School (Appleton, WI). He was also previously on the faculty at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music (Milwaukee, WI). 

Dr. Fernandez presently holds the Robert and Joan Bauer Endowed Professorship in Strings and Music Education at University of Wisconsin Green Bay.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

FVSO's Free Family Concert is on track for July 15


GRAND CHUTE, WI – The Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra is ready for their seventh Brats, Beer, and Beethoven event at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium.  This free event will be held on Saturday, July 15 at 7:30pm, and is presented by Community First Credit Union and Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region.

“This is our gift back to the community. We want everyone to feel welcome and comfortable. It is a free event where your whole family can come and enjoy the concert, grab your favorite Timber Rattlers snacks, let the kids play and run around, and enjoy a huge fireworks display at the end of the night,” said Jamie LaFreniere, Executive Director of the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra.  “Absolutely everyone belongs here, and it is designed to bring us all together.”

The musical selections this year will range from Beethoven and Sousa to Queen, The Moody Blues, and Journey.  Fox Valleyaires Men’s Barbershop Chorus and MacDowell Male Chorus will perform this year, too.

Brats, Beer, and Beethoven is a free event with no charge for parking or admission to the stadium.  The parking lot opens at 5:00pm.  The gates to the stadium open at 6:00pm with the show beginning at 7:30pm.  All seating for the event is based on first-come, first-serve availability.  There will be food and beverages available for purchase from the concessions stands with fireworks scheduled at the end of the night.

“FVSO is also happy to bring back their open rehearsal hours during the daytime hours for a more sensory-friendly experience,” said LaFreniere. “For those with special needs who have a hard time with large crowds and don’t want the noise of fireworks, we love having them join us earlier so they can still get to enjoy a free concert.”

Please contact FVSO at to make special accommodations for the daytime rehearsal.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Change to March 11, 2023 Program: Announcing Eunghee Cho

Sadly, there has been a change to our program for this weekend. Due to illness, Benedict Klöckner is no longer able to perform. We're delighted and grateful that world-class cellist Eunghee Cho from Houston has agreed to step in last minute.We’re also very excited that composer José Elizondo will be with us.

Eunghee Cho, biography

Born in Davis, California, Korean-American cellist Eunghee Cho was awarded Second Prize and the special award for Outstanding Chinese New Piece Performance at the Alice & Eleonore Schoenfeld International String Competition (China). He has also earned top prizes in the Gustav Mahler Prize Cello Competition (Czech Republic), AEMC International Chamber Music Competition (Italy), Chamber Music Yellow Springs Competition, USC Solo Bach Competition, the Borromeo String Quartet Guest Artist Award, MTNA National Chamber Music String Competition, New England Conservatory’s Honors Ensemble Competition, and Sacramento Philharmonic League Concerto Competition.

A committed teacher, Eunghee currently serves on the cello and chamber music faculty of University of Houston’s Moores School of Music, where he also directs the Moores Cello Ensemble and CelloFest Houston. He has been invited to present masterclasses for Towson University, La Jolla Music Society, Walnut Hill School for the Arts, Artis Naples, Royal Conservatory of Music, and Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society, and is the Artistic Director of Mellon Music Festival in Davis, CA as well as the Houston Chapter of Music for Food. Eunghee has also been invited to serve on the summer teaching faculties of Texas Music Festival, Montecito International Music Festival, Heifetz International Music Institute, and Festival Internacional de Música Naolinco.

He has appeared as soloist with numerous orchestras around the country including the Sacramento Philharmonic, Cape Symphony, Atlantic Symphony, Symphony by the Sea, Davis Symphony, and Sacramento State Symphony Orchestras. He held the Joyce & Donald Steele Chair as Principal Cello of the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra as well as Principal Cello of Boston Festival Orchestra, and has performed as Principal Cello with Dallas Chamber Symphony, Cape Symphony, Unitas Ensemble, and Symphony by the Sea. Eunghee has actively participated in classes at the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival and Académie Musicale de Villecroze in France, and has worked closely with distinguished musicians such as Ralph Kirshbaum, Kim Kashkashian, Steven Doane, Colin Carr, Myung-Wha Chung, Jean-Guihen Queyras, and members of the Guarneri, Emerson, Tokyo, Orion, Brentano, Borromeo, and Shanghai Quartets.

As an avid chamber musician, Eunghee has collaborated in performances with artists such as Midori Goto, Inon Barnatan, David Shifrin, Maeve Gilchrist, Elton John, Keith Murphy, Alec Benjamin, François Salque, and with members of the Borromeo String Quartet, St. Lawrence String Quartet, Calder String Quartet, Silk Road Ensemble, A Far Cry, and Aaron Diehl Trio. He has also performed as a guest artist with A Far Cry, Da Camera Society, and the Chamber Music Society of Sacramento. Previous festival engagements include La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Taos School of Music, Keuka Lake Music Festival, Rheingau Musik Festival, Festival International d’Echternach, and Rencontres Franco Américaines de Musique Chambre in Missillac, France.

As a passionate adventurer of contemporary music, he has collaborated directly with composers in performances of their works including with Frank Ticheli, José Elizondo, Andrew Norman, David Froom, Michael Gandolfi, and Gabriela Lena Frank. Eunghee’s own arrangements have been commissioned and premiered by Sphinx Organization, New England Conservatory’s Cello Choir, Holes in the Floor, Rasa String Quartet, Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, Mellon Music Festival, Moores Cello Ensemble, and Music for Food.

Eunghee graduated magna cum laude and as a Steven & Kathryn Sample Renaissance Scholar from the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance and a Minor in Biology. He completed both Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees at New England Conservatory under the tutelage of distinguished pedagogues Laurence Lesser and Paul Katz. His previous instructors include Andrew Shulman, Andrew Luchansky, Richard Andaya, and Julie Hochman. Away from the cello, Eunghee enjoys neighborhood pick-up soccer, everything about dogs, and dawdling in local coffee shops.

Friday, March 3, 2023

Youth Orchestra Student Nolan Henckel Wins Competition

This weekend is a big deal for a lot of our student musicians as they tackle solo and ensemble. But one of our students has decided to skip S&E this year for a very good reason.

Horn player Nolan Henckel participated in a competition for high school and college students sponsored by the Lakeshore Wind Ensemble. Though competition was strong, Nolan took home first place with a cash prize and an opportunity to solo with the ensemble. 

His performance is Saturday, March 4th and he will perform Morceau de Concert by Camille Saint-Saens.  

Band director Mike Arendt founded the Lakeshore Wind Ensemble, and Mike was a student of Nolan's grandpa, Richard (Dick) Henckel. Mike has a daughter who plays cello, and Laura Kenney Henckel, Nolan's mother, taught her in her teens. Yet another layer of connection is that Laura is also teaching her two daughters!

The connections don't end there. Mike Arendt taught Jeremiah Eis (band director at Xavier Middle School) who taught Nolan in middle school. Jeremiah is now the conductor of the Lakeshore Wind Ensemble and will be up on stage with Nolan for his concerto debut.

It is hard to believe there can be so many connections, but we are truly blessed to have such an amazing and collaborative music community here in the Fox Cities. 

Best wishes this weekend, Nolan. We know you will be amazing!

Nolan's Biography:

Nolan Henckel, age 17, is a Junior at Xavier High School in Appleton, Wisconsin. He began playing the horn in 3rd grade, and he quickly advanced, despite his young age. He briefly studied with Don Krause (Neenah) before moving on to study with Andy Parks (DePere). Nolan began studying with Dr. Bruce Atwell, professor of horn at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, in January 2019 and continues to study in his studio.

Nolan has participated in the Wisconsin State Music Association’s (WSMA) Middle Level State Honors program (6th through 9th grade) and High School State Honors program (10th and 11th grade). He has also participated in the WSMA District Solo and Ensemble Festival, qualifying for State Solo and Ensemble Festival competition each year since 6th grade.

Nolan has been an active band member at Xavier as well as being a member of the Fox Valley Youth Orchestra and the Lawrence Community Wind Ensemble. He has spent the last two summers at Lutheran Summer Music (LSM) Academy, the nation’s premier faith-based music academy for high school students, in Valparaiso, Indiana. LSM is a four-week program providing advanced musical instruction and numerous performance opportunities. In addition to studying horn, Nolan has explored composition and conducting.

Nolan comes from a very musical family. His parents, Laura (cello) and Michael (trumpet), are both very active musically, as are his siblings, Kayla (violin) and Dylan (vocal tenor). The previous generation also includes Laura’s mother, Carol Leybourn Janssen (piano), and Michael’s father, C. Richard Henckel (horn).  One of the horns Nolan uses today was his grandfather’s.

In addition to playing the horn, Nolan enjoys video games, watching football (the Denver Broncos, not the Packers), cheeseburgers, and spending time with his two cats, Arlong and Snickers.