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Community Newsletter: Racine Symphony Orchestra

Community Newsletter: Racine Symphony Orchestra

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While currently wrapping up a season of virtual programming, the Racine Symphony Orchestra is excitedly planning a return to live performances.

“We are cautiously optimistic regarding hosting live audiences,” said Beth Bender, executive director. “One of the most difficult aspects of the past year was not being able to greet our audience members in-person and we can’t wait to see them again,” she continued.

However, in spite of their excitement, Bender reminds us the RSO continues to be committed to the safety of the audience and musicians and will continue to act in the best interest of the community. In the meantime, they are keeping busy with numerous virtual offerings to close out the season.

Their “Four Seasons with the RSO” project concluded with the release of “Spring” March 26. As with previous seasons, the release involved a partnership with a local business. The pairing for this performance was a virtual cocktail event with Doug Nicholson, owner of Carriage House Liquor Co.

“Supporting our local businesses is a core value of the RSO,” said Heather Keszler, patron services and marketing coordinator. “Over the years, we have greatly benefitted from the support of the Racine business community. We are committed to honoring these relationships by directing our patrons to those businesses.” Previous partnerships involved Ivanhoe Pub & Eatery, O&H Danish Bakery, and Uncorkt Wine All You Want, all long-time friends of the RSO. The recorded performances of all four seasons are available on the RSO’s YouTube Channel until May 31.

Competition winner

During a normal season, the RSO delivers seven education programs designed for students and adults of all ages. While many programs needed to be revised or placed on hold this season, one remained mostly unchanged by the pandemic.

The annual Young Artists’ Competition, in which high school instrumental students compete for scholarship money and the featured soloist spot on the Spring Masterworks Concert, was held virtually in early February. Of the program, Maestro Pasquale Laurino says, “‘We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.’ This quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt reminds me of the responsibility we have to young musicians in the Racine community. In offering the Young Artist Competition annually, we provide an invaluable opportunity for gifted students to perform with our symphony orchestra. Performing with a professional ensemble is the sine qua non experience for any performer.”

This event was held virtually and the winner, cellist Nolan Boerner will perform Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto No. 1 in A Minor on the Livestream Masterworks Season Finale at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 18.

This performance, broadcast from Bedford Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Parkside campus, also includes works by Arvo Pärt and Benjamin Britten and is available free of charge on the RSO YouTube Channel. Also included as part of this event is the preconcert conversation, an interview with Boerner which will be available at 2:30 p.m. via YouTube.

Summer performances

While plans are still in the works, patrons can count on at least one performance this summer. The “Summer Sounds 2021” series will feature a tentative performance in late June at UW-Parkside and a confirmed performance on Aug. 27 at the Racine Zoo.

Sharon Ramquist, Board president, is optimistic about the summer concerts. “After a long hiatus, I am very excited about the debut of our summer concert series ‘Summer Sounds’. Guest Conductor, Dr. Rob Tomaro will bring a welcoming musical experience as we look forward to entertaining our audience at our June and August concerts.”

Maestro Pasquale Laurino will continue to take the podium for the Masterworks Series and Holiday Pops Concert, details of which will be announced at a late date.

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