Windsor Symphony Orchestra
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The Windsor Symphony Orchestra is a Canadian orchestra located in Windsor, Ontario. The orchestra performs in South Western Ontario, playing both classical and popular music.
- 1 History
- 2 Music directors
- 3 Current leadership
- 4 Concerts and programs
- 5 Awards and accolades
- 6 Discography
- 7 World premieres
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The Windsor Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1941, originally as the Windsor Concert Orchestra. The name was changed to The Windsor Symphony in 1948. The first conductor was Matti Holli, who remained with the orchestra until his death in 1977. From 1977 to 1979 Clifford Evens served as interim conductor and artistic adviser. Laszlo Gati was music director from 1979 to 1985 and is credited with raising the level of the orchestra and consolidating community support.
The most recent Canadian conductor to be appointed music director was Dwight Bennett in 1986. Under Bennett, the orchestra became fully professional but also ran into financial difficulties through unrealized revenue projections and a musician's strike in 1988. He was succeeded by American conductor Susan Haig in 1991. Music director from 2001 to 2012 was American conductor John Morris Russell. During his tenure the orchestra received several awards including two Ontario Lieutenant Governor's awards for the arts. He conducted his last concert as music director on May 12, 2012.
On Feb. 26, 2013, the Windsor Symphony Orchestra announced the appointment of Robert Franz as their sixth Music Director. Franz is the third American conductor in a row to be appointed to the position. He was chosen from seven other candidates, which were fellow Americans Laura Jackson, Steven Jarvi, Kevin Rhodes and Scott Speck; Irish conductor Kevin Mallon; Canadian Erik Paetkau and Romanian Cristian Macelaru.
The Windsor Symphony Orchestra performs at several venues in the Windsor-Essex County area but, since the beginning of the 2012-13 season, is based at the historic Capitol Theatre in downtown Windsor, a restored former movie house. Several concerts, mainly for smaller ensembles and the orchestra's Chorus, are performed annually at the University of Windsor's Assumption University Chapel.
|1979–1985||Maestro Laszlo Gati|
|1986–1990||Maestro Dwight Bennett|
|1991–2000||Maestra Susan Haig|
|2001–2012||Maestro John Morris Russell|
|2013-Present||Maestro Robert Franz|
Assistant conductor Peter Wiebe was named Windsor Symphony Youth Orchestra (WSYO) Conductor and Assistant Conductor in January 2005. Wiebe has played cello in the Windsor Symphony Orchestra’s core since 1987. He has also served the WSO at different times as principal and assistant principal cellist, education co-coordinator, concert host, chorusmaster, operations manager, arranger and composer.
Concerts and programs
Annually, the Windsor Symphony Orchestra stages 4 to 5 programmes with full orchestra in its Masterworks series and 4 to 5 Pops programmes, each performed at the historic Capitol Theatre in Windsor. The WSO also has 4 to 5 chamber orchestra programmes in its Intimate Classics Series performed in Windsor, Leamington and Tecumseh, Ontario.
The Windsor Symphony Orchestra Chorus was created in 1988 as a choral group directly affiliated with the orchestra. Previously, the orchestra would perform alongside the Windsor Classic Chorale and groups from Windsor and Leamington. The Chorus, which is volunteer and by audition, performs several concerts throughout the season at the Capitol Theatre as well as at UW Assumption University Chapel, covering classical as well as contemporary and pop music. The current chorusmaster is Bruce Kotowich.
The Windsor Canadian Music Festival is an annual celebration of new orchestral music with a focus on Canadian composers and performers. The WSO collaborates with the University of Windsor, School of Music to showcase up and coming composers and explore the newest trends in musical expression.
Community Outreach concerts feature the WSO chamber orchestra and regional soloists in programmes designed for small venues, to help hosting organizations raise funds for a special cause. Gift of Music concerts are performed by string or woodwind ensembles for social service agencies, nursing/retirement homes and non-profit organizations throughout Windsor/Essex County.
The Music Alive concert series involves small percussion, woodwind, brass, and string ensembles, which perform at schools in Windsor/Essex County. Programming is age-specific and designed to correspond with the Ontario school curriculum with the intent of enhancing learning through the arts.
Education Concert Series
The Education Concert Series consists of three concert programmes designed kindergarten to grade three; grades four to six, and grades seven to twelve. The concerts are developed to be interactive and often feature young performers as soloists. Tied specifically to The Ontario Curriculum Grades 1-8: The Arts, 1998, concert themes are: language, social studies, geography, science, and math.
One-Community – One Symphony
The One-Community – One Symphony Project began in 2008, as a season long exploration of a single major symphonic work with high school bands and choirs from Windsor/Essex. The biennial project includes the participation of 10-12 high school bands and choruses representing French, Catholic and Public School Boards. Students rehearse and perform arrangements of the work as part of their regular school music program, with additional master-classes and rehearsals with Maestro Russell. The project culminates with a shared performance with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra.
Peanut Butter n’ Jam
The WSO’s Peanut Butter n’ Jam concert series is an interactive and engaging introduction to music for young children ages 2–6 and their families. Music hosts guide children in exploration of classic melodies, orchestral families, traditional songs, art, story telling and magic. PB n’ J concerts are offered at three different locations in Windsor at a variety of times.
Windsor Symphony Youth Orchestra
Created in 2004, the Windsor Symphony Youth Orchestra (WSYO) rehearses and performs orchestral music by the great masters under professional direction. Students (ages 12–20) audition for membership and develop their talent to realize their full potential through the experience of making music at a high level. It also involves learning about striving for excellence and working cooperatively in a professional environment. The WSYO performs 3-5 concerts annually including Side-by-Side performance with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra.
The Music Therapy program is a partnership between the WSO, University of Windsor Music Therapy program, Windsor Regional Hospital, and Transition to Betterness. University of Windsor Music Therapy students perform alongside WSO musicians at Windsor Regional Hospital, visiting patients and utilizing music therapy practices to promote wellness and enhance the quality of life while providing an opportunity for students to learn.
Awards and accolades
- 2010 – Windsor Endowment for the Arts (WEA) Award to Arts Organizations given to the Armouries Redevelopment Committee; WEA Arts Leadership Award for Performing Arts to John Morris Russell; Herb Gray Harmony Award to John Morris Russell in recognition of the WSO's programming and outreach activities that consistently support and celebrate the region's cultural diversity; A recording by CBC Radio 2 of the Windsor Canadian Music Festival performance by the WSO of composer Jordan Nobles' work Aurora Borealis selected to represent Canada at the International Rostrum of Composers in Lisbon.
- 2008 – Juno Award nomination for the recording of Peter and the Wolf & Last Minute Lulu; Orchestras Canada Betty Webster Award presented to persons who, over the long term, make a difference in the Canadian orchestral community, given to former Executive Director Mina Grossman Ianni.
- 2007 – Vide Peene Fund Orchestra Award 
- 2006 – 5 out of 5 stars from Rick Phillips, CBC’s Sound Advice for Peter and the Wolf & Last Minute Lulu
- 2004 – Gold World medal, New York Festivals Awards for Television and New Media
- 2004 – Gemini Award nomination for performance on CBC’s Opening Night
- 2001 & 2003 – Ontario Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for the Arts 
- Peter and the Wolf and Last Minute Lulu – John Morris Russell conductor, 2006. With narration by Colm Feore and Christopher Paul Curtis. Composition by Prokofiev and Brent Lee.
- Mozart Symphony No. 33, The Magic Flute Overture, Vorrei spiegarvi, Haydn: Symphony No. 82: Susan Haig conductor, Windsor Symphony Singers, 1999
- Rudy Plays Rachmaninoff, WSO, Laszlo Gati conducting, Michael Rudy, piano. Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 3, Op. 30
The Windsor Symphony Orchestra has presented over 40 World Premieres since 2001. This includes 29 works commissioned by the WSO (made possible through a grant by Canada Council for the Arts).
|2000-01||Grossi, Jason||Gestures||Canadian Premier|
|2000-01||Kovarik, Christopher||Morning Commute||World Premier|
|2000-01||Kuzmenko, Larysa||Concerto for Piano & Percussion||World Premier|
|2001-02||Kovarik, Christopher||Sinfonietta||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2001-02||Malcom, Trevor||One Hundred Thirty Something Point 5||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2001-02||McIntrye, Paul||Requiescantin Pace||World Premier|
|2003-04||Currie, Neil||Sentiment Number 3||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2003-04||Hatch, Peter||Crystal Fragments||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2003-04||Lee, Brent||Voca me cum benedictus||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2003-04||Lee, Brent||Like Breath||World Premier|
|2003-04||Lee, Brent||Last Minute Lulu||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2003-04||Lee, Brent||Gatineau River||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2003-04||Palmer, Juliet||Swerve||World Premier|
|2003-04||Rosen, Robert||Art of Aqueducts||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2003-04||Wiebe, Peter||Movimento for Strings||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2003-04||Yzeiri, Besnik||Potpuri||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2003-04||Currie, Niel||Sentiment Number 3||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2003-04||Hatch, Peter||Crystal Fragmanets||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2003-04||Rosen, Robert||Art of Aqueducts||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2004-05||Frehner, Paul||Tightrope: For 3 Accordions and Orchestra||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2004-05||Lee, Brent||Selvage for Orchestra and Midi||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2004-05||Lee, Brent||Iron Horses||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2004-05||Lee, Brent||Stone and Star||World Premier|
|2004-05||Lee, Brent||Equinox Below||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2004-05||Roi, Micheline||Tengo Que Decir||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2005-06||Korndorf, Nikolai||Let the Earth Bring Forth||North American Premier|
|2005-06||Lee, Brent||Symphony No. 1 (Chorea)||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2005-06||Lee, Brent||Trance Phatty Acid||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2005-06||Lee, Brent||Arcadia||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2005-06||Lee, Brent||Luminous Night||World Premier|
|2005-06||Morlock, Jocelyn||Music of the Romantic Era||World Premier|
|2005-06||Yusupova, Iraida||On My Way to Damascus||World Premier|
|2006-07||Abram, John||Kitchenette||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2006-07||Godin, Scott||O Sweet Spontaneous||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2006-07||Oesterle, Michael||Perennials||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2006-07||Oliver, John||Face in the Abstract||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2006-07||Smith, Linda||Burnt Umber||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2008-09||Kuster, Kristin||Beneath this Stone||Canadian Premier|
|2008-09||Lee, Brent||Ruck N' Roll for Electric Viola and Orchestra||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2008-09||Marwood, Shelley||Of Such Ecstatic Sound||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2008-09||Plowman, Michael Richard||Journey to the Center||World Premier||WSO Commissioned|
|2008-09||Santos, Erik||Symphony No. 1 "Shards"||Canadian Premier|
- [dead link]
- "Windsor Symphony Orchestra Bids Farewell to John Morris Russell this Weekend".
- "Page not found - Windsor Symphony Orchestra". www.windsorsymphony.com.
- Assistant Conductor "Windsor Symphony Orchestra: Assistant Conductor Peter Wiebe", Retrieved 2009-07-07.
- Awards & Accolades "Windsor Symphony Orchestra recipient of the Vida Peene Fund – 2007 Orchestra Award", Retrieved. 2009-07-07.
- Awards & Accolades "Windsor Symphony Orchestra: About Us", Retrieved. 2009-07-07.
- World Premiers "Commissions of Canadian Works" , Retrieved. 2010-04-04.