The Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra is fully engaged in the community. It is a collaborator, currently working toward a ground-breaking partnership with the Grand Opera House. In addition to work with two youth orchestras, with schools and with the Boys & Girls Club, the orchestra regularly gives concerts that reflect and promote other Oshkosh non-profit organization events and exhibitions.
The OSO stresses the importance of interaction with other local non-profit arts and charitable organizations.
The orchestra has collaborated with the Grand Opera House, the Oshkosh Public Museum, the Boys & Girls Club, Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services and the Paine Art Center, among others.
Approximately 30% of the orchestra's budget goes toward educational programming.
Oshkosh Youth Symphony Orchestra
The Oshkosh Symphony is the major sponsor of the Oshkosh Youth Symphony Orchestra (OYSO). OYSO has rehearsed and performed regularly for over two decades. The orchestra consists of approximately 90 young musicians from Oshkosh and the surrounding communities. In addition to its concerts for the public, OYSO performs an annual concert for more than 1,000 area third grade students. Members also host an instrument "petting zoo" prior to the concert so students can get an up-close, hands-on look at being in an orchestra.
I was impressed with OYSO's performance and poise. Make no mistake, they may be young, but they will rock you.
The OSO and OYSO added a new member to our musical family in 2007. Our second orchestra, Philharmonia, is a youth symphony for young musicians who are talented and enthusiastic but not yet advanced enough for the OYSO. This orchestra was established due to an expressed desire in the community for a younger youth symphony to help build and prepare developing musicians who love their instruments for the full orchestral scores and challenging performance opportunities OYSO provides. Philharmonia has 50 members and will perform two concerts this season conducted and led by music directors Yukiko Grine and Timm Lyons.
Art and Music Synergy Project
Providing synesthetic (involving more than one sense) arts experiences where students create visual arts and written expressions inspired by symphony sounds.
The idea. In the spring of 2006, artist, painter and sculptor Lyn Marie Neuenfeldt approached the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra with a concept of combining visual art with symphonic music to inspire and educate children. Lyn Marie proposed that symphony music could provide inspiration for visual art and at the same time provide an excellent vehicle for written expression.
The project in action. The OSO supported Lyn Marie in her concept, and carefully selected music that was especially appealing to young minds for one concert each season. Students produced works of art while listening to a piece of music the orchestra is scheduled to perform at its concert. Along with their visual art creation, the students write statements about their art work and how the music influenced their creation.
Community response to our synergy projects indicate student experience and resulting works of art often far exceed the expectations of everyone involved. For the 2008-09 season Deb Bartelt, a local artist who is currently teaching at Webster Stanley Middle School replicated Lyn Marie’s success in combining symphonic music with hands-on visual art creation as a way to inspire and educate young boys and girls with synesthetic excitement and insight that comes from combining two art forms.
The ideas expressed and the visual art that the students create are nothing short of amazing. In 2007, 2008 and 2009, OSO's Synergy Project displayed student artwork and writing at OSO Concerts, in our office lobby, and during Gallery Walks. Complimentary concert tickets are made available to participating students and low-income families.
Lyn Marie will produce copies of the manual in both CD and print format. Art teachers in a number of elementary schools in low income areas as well as the Boys and Girls Club will be coached in the use of the instructional manual. An assistant will be trained to pass on the information to other schools as needed in future years.
Complimentary concert tickets will be made available to students and low-income families.
Praise for the OSO and OYSO
Healthy and thriving communities need vibrant and quality arts experiences, and orchestral music is an essential part of the arts spectrum. Oshkosh is lucky to have the Symphony and its great performances and talented musicians. The Symphony and Youth Symphony add immeasurable creativity, joy and meaning to the life of the community.
The Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra changed my life, in a period when after moving here due to my husband's job [UWO professor] I was thinking there is almost nothing to do for me. It is not very easy to get adjusted to a small city like Oshkosh, after moving twice from one continent to the other. Geri Grine [Oshkosh Youth Symphony conductor] was the one who invited me to play in the Orchestra and suddenly I felt the excitement of looking forward to play in this nice community orchestra. It was the light for me! The experience was great and since then I am very grateful to her and to OSO. I played two seasons at the I Violin section and the concerts were always very satisfying.
On other continents it's very rare to have such an orchestra and the added value from all point of views to our community is incommensurable. I'm very proud to be a member of OSO and hope to play many more years in it.
I cannot stress enough the impact of the Oshkosh Youth Symphony on my life and the importance of both the Oshkosh Symphony and Youth Symphony in the community. Firstly, I have made many of my closest friends through participation in music programs, and Oshkosh Symphony concerts are the most popular venue for me to see those friends and to enjoy a wonderful evening of music together. I know music lovers who come to Oshkosh from the surrounding areas once a month just to catch a performance of the Oshkosh Symphony. The commitment of the Oshkosh Symphony to musical excellence is astounding, and I find myself marking concert dates on my calendar and always waiting in anticipation for the next performance. Needless to say, the Oshkosh Symphony offers a unique and irreplaceable aspect to the community of Oshkosh.
Secondly, as a member of the Youth Symphony for the past six years, I can testify to the enormous difference it has made in the lives of young musicians in Oshkosh and the surrounding areas. Though the experience of playing music is a blessing in itself, it is great that the Oshkosh Youth Symphony offers musicians the opportunity to create music in an ensemble setting that is both fun and inspiring. At every rehearsal, members of the Youth Symphony combine their dedication, effort, and passion for music, learning from each other and from our wonderful conductor, Geri Grine. Participation in the Youth Symphony has taught me that the discipline, hard work, and spirit I put into my music is all worth it when I see the faces of audience members after a brilliant performance. There is simply no substitute to that feeling.