Winona Symphony Orchestra to come to WSU

McKenna Scherer, Features Reporter

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On Feb. 29, the Winona Symphony Orchestra will be coming to Winona State University’s campus to perform the annual Children’s Concert. The concert will take place in the Harriet Johnson Auditorium in Somsen Hall.

Founded in 1908, the group serves to “enrich the Winona area with live performances of quality symphonic music, provides performing opportunities for talented area musicians, and promotes an appreciation of live classical music among young people” as stated on the Winona Symphony Orchestra website.

The concert will be under the direction of Erik Rohde and includes 28 musicians. Rohde has and will choose all pieces performed by the Symphony this 2018-19 season and is native to Rochester, Minnesota. Holding a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Conducting from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, a degree in Violin Performance and a degree in Biomedical Engineering, Rohde will be in charge of guiding artistic direction and performance for the Winona Symphony Orchestra.

“I’ve always had a special tie to Minnesota and am excited to be a part of the Winona Symphony’s long-standing tradition of being a part of this community,” Rohde said, when selected for the position.

The Winona Symphony Orchestra is the oldest arts organization in Southeast Minnesota and has just welcomed new music director and conductor, Rohde, after saying goodbye to retiring Dan Lovejoy who had been the Music Director from 2009 – 18 and was the founding director of Chamber Music Winona and Director of Bands and Coordinator of Brass for Winona State University.

This concert is set for a younger audience, meant for the children of Winona. The performance, aimed at students in third and fourth grade, will feature W. A. Mozart’s Overture to The Marriage of Figaro and a narrated score featuring “Peter and the Wolf” by Sergie Prokofiev. “Peter and the Wolf” is a symphonic tale for children that allows them to become familiar with several different instruments in correlation to the sounds of forest animals, including the bird, the cat, the duck and the wolf. Also heard will be the sound of hunters, along with main character Peter and his grandfather. The performance will be narrated by local announcer Ray Felton.

The annual Children’s Concerts  were brought back by the Winona Symphony Orchestra in the 2015-16 season to share music with the youth in Winona.

The first season the concert came back there was nearly a full-house with close to 950 elementary students and their teachers and chaperones, and last year served over 1,000 people. This 2019 performance was met with such high demand that there will be two separate concerts to have room for everyone in the community that is interested, one at 9 a.m. and another at 10:30 a.m.

Winona area elementary school children have been invited to the performances and there have already been 1,100 confirmed reservations. Reservations are still available for the 10:30 a.m. performance and limited balcony seating is available for the general public as well.

The Winona Symphony Orchestra is a non-profit organization and has been awarded a $10,000 Arts and Cultural Heritage Grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council for this year’s Children Concert, allowing admission to the concert to be free for Winona area school children. Free-will donations will be accepted from the general public attending.

The Symphony’s 2018-19 season is named “From Minnesota with Love,” which included their October fall concert, the Children’s Concert on Feb. 19 and the spring concert coming up on March 30.  The spring concert will offer free admission for students in the Winona area in grades K-12; high school students will gain free admission by bringing their school ID and elementary and middle school students will gain free admission when accompanied by an adult.