UW-Stevens Point partners to create new youth symphony orchestra program

A new youth symphony orchestra program will serve Central Wisconsin, with support from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and area music educators. 

The Central Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra Program will offer a full symphony orchestra, Philharmonia (string orchestra) and junior wind ensemble as well as partnerships with UW-Stevens Point Music Department faculty, the Aber Suzuki Center and UW-Stevens Point Continuing Education. Kurt Van Tiem, a director of the Concert Band and string program at P.J. Jacobs High School in Stevens Point, is the program’s founding music director. 

“I have this vision of creating an opportunity for central Wisconsin youth to perform standard orchestral repertoire,” said Van Tiem. “I also want to help bridge the gap of less personal instruction time at school with more access to higher-level instruction and music literature by focusing on great classical orchestral music with our region's outstanding young musicians.” 

Members of all ensembles have the opportunity to receive coaching from UW-Stevens Point and Aber Suzuki music faculty. 

“Young musicians would have to travel to Madison or Fox Valley to be involved at this level of study and performance,” said Van Tiem, “and now they can travel to the beautiful facilities at the UW-Stevens Point Noel Fine Arts Center.” 

Van Tiem will direct the Symphony Orchestra, which will perform at the advanced high school level. It will tour every three to four years. 

Van Tiem previously conducted the Wausau Symphony, the Symphony and Symphonic Band at UW Marshfield and the Wind Ensemble and Youth Wind Ensemble at the University of Massachusetts. He served as principal horn of the Central Wisconsin Symphony and the American Wind Symphony. He holds degrees in music education and horn performance from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and University of Massachusetts-Amherst. 

The Philharmonia, directed by Ginger Marten, will perform string orchestra literature from standard middle school to high school level. Marten teaches sixth through 12th grade orchestra programs in Wisconsin Rapids and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from Lawrence Conservatory of Music and UW-Stevens Point. She was awarded a Kohl Fellowship for Teaching in 2010 and performs in the band Tilly’s Village.

The Junior Wind Ensemble, directed by Jeanne Olson, will perform wind band literature from standard middle school to high school level. Olsen teaches instrumental music at Wisconsin Rapids East Junior High School. She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from UW-Stevens Point and plays in the flute and piccolo section with the Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra and the Wisconsin Rapids City Band. 

Student musicians are encouraged to register early for auditions to the program. Rehearsals will begin this fall, and a concert will conclude each semester. Information and registration materials are available through UW-Stevens Point Continuing Education at www.uwsp.edu/conted/artculture/Pages/cwyso or by calling 715-346-3838. 

The Central Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra Program is a non-profit organization. Donations may be made to a fund at the UWSP Foundation. For more information, call 715-346-3812 or email uwsp.foundation@uwsp.edu. 


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