Fifty years ago, a group of teachers and students came together to form a community orchestra. Now, after a half-century of bringing classical music to the Fox Cities area, the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra is set to celebrate its landmark anniversary in style. Esteemed guest artists Edgar Meyer, Eileen Ivers and the legendary Itzhak Perlman will share the stage with the orchestra this season, and a collaboration with local choral group newVoices will see 80 voices blended with the traditional symphonic sound.
The orchestra kicked off their 50th season in July with their annual Brats, Beer & Beethoven concert at the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers’ stadium, where 4,500 attendees enjoyed music, from jazz to movie soundtracks, free of charge. While massive concerts and world-class collaborations are a huge part of the orchestra’s 50th anniversary celebrations, they are only half of the organization’s focus.
Community outreach is a central component of the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra.
“Especially for the 50th, we really want to be out there in the community, doing a lot,” explains Executive Director Jamie LaFreniere. “You’ll see us at farmers market, at nursing homes, at the library. We want to be in the community.”
The orchestra engages in outreach in numerous ways, from educational programs with the Appleton Area School District and local children’s organizations to working with arts groups in the area and Minor League Baseball teams.
As for years 51 and beyond, the symphony is looking to grow those partnerships.
“We really just want to bring music to the community,” says LaFreniere. “We love collaborating with local arts organizations, and that’s how we plan to stay here.”