Symphony Saturdays

3/14/2018 - Anna Hegland

Arts & Culture
Kenosha Symphony Orchestra
Kenosha Symphony Orchestra
Kenosha Symphony Orchestra
Kenosha Symphony Orchestra

When I was a kid, Saturday mornings were a special time — not just because that’s when the best cartoons were on TV. Both my parents are musicians, so music was (and is!) a near constant in my life, but, growing up, Saturday mornings were extra special because they were symphony days. My brother and I would have breakfast with Dad, and then we would make our way to Reuther High School, where we would get our own private show, watching dress rehearsals before big concerts. We would sit as quietly as we could (which is difficult, because the auditorium chairs at Reuther can be incredibly squeaky) and listen to the orchestra rehearse sections of the pieces they would play in full later that evening. Sometimes, during breaks, we would even get to wave at Mom from the balcony… truly, every five year old’s dream.

The Kenosha Symphony Orchestra has been around for far longer than that, however. Like many of the multi-generational businesses in the Kenosha area, it’s a proud part of the community and has been since its founding in 1940. This current season is its 78th. Ever since I can remember, the KSO has worked to make quality music available for people of all ages, though usually at full concerts and outreach events, rather than the rehearsals I sat in on as a child. Outreach is an important part of their work, the KSO regularly has a booth of some sort at the summertime Kenoshsa HarborMarket (my favorite is their instrument petting zoo, where kids get to try out various orchestral instruments) and they sponsor a free Youth Concert every April for Kenosha Unified students.

I loved attending the Youth Concert as a 5th grader — in fact, I still think of the Symphony every time I hear Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, where they introduced each character’s musical theme beforehand so that we could all follow the narrative of the piece. I remember being overjoyed as a teenager when I came home one afternoon to hear my Mom practicing music from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean, and then being disappointed when the cellos didn’t get a particular melody. The KSO holiday concerts were another staple of my childhood, and it still doesn’t really feel like Christmas until I’ve heard the jingly bells of Leroy Anderson’s arrangement of Sleigh Ride.

Now that I’m an adult, I still enjoy attending Symphony concerts. My Mom still plays for some of them, and my whole family regularly volunteers for the KSO. Last April, they performed a program of Russian works from Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky, with an immensely talented student pianist (Panpan Wang, a student at Carthage College, who won the 2016 Youth Concerto Competition). This past October, they were joined by a virtuosic 17 year old violinist (Maya Anjali Buchanan, who has been awarded national and international prizes for her work) for Max Bruch’s Concerto for Violin, No. 1, opus 26 in G minor. These are programs on par with what you see at international venues, and yet it’s in our own backyard!

If you’ve never attended a Kenosha Symphony Orchestra concert, there’s still time to enjoy this year’s season. The final concert of the 2017-2018 program is on April 14 at Carthage College. The KSO will be joined by the Carthage College Choir and Tremper High School Chorale for an evening of Beethoven’s early work that sounds like it will be absolutely wonderful. Like always, I’ve got a top tip: this year, the KSO is offering free admission to children and teens under the age of 18, when you purchase an adult ticket — that means there’s no excuse not to bring the whole family! Because this is a concert that features youth ensembles, it’s a really great way to share classical music with kids. And do me a favor: if you sit up in the balcony, have them give a little wave for me.

Anna Hegland

Community Blogger

Kenosha Native with a love for baseball, ice cream, and the arts. Studied in Iowa, Italy, and England - returned to her hometown. Works for the Kenosha Public Museum and drinks too many chai lattes.