When Emily Sipiorski moved to Waupaca two years ago, she did so with the hope of starting a regional orchestra.
On Saturday, Nov. 3, that hope turns into reality when the Waupaca Area Orchestra performs for the first time in the historic Gerold Opera House in downtown Weyauwega.
“I’m very excited. I think it’s going to be a huge, very wonderful event. There’s lots of support from the community and lots of people who have helped in a lot of different ways,” said Sipiorski, the orchestra’s executive director.
The Stevens Point native studied violin at the Suzuki Center and went on to study music performance as an undergrad at UW-Stevens Point and to do graduate work in performance and pedagogy at UW-Milwaukee.
After moving to Waupaca with her husband Justin and their two children, she began teaching private violin lessons.
Here she saw not only the opportunity to create a regional orchestra but interest from others in her doing so.
When she met Kathy Fehl and Ian Teal and walked into the Gerold Opera House, a light bulb went off.
“The thing that was lacking was a venue,” Sipiorski said.
She found it in Weyauwega.
Fehl and Teal formed Wega Arts in 2007 – the non-profit organization that owns, operates the opera house – and are pleased to have the Waupaca Area Orchestra in residence there.
“How thrilled the Wega Arts organization is to be involved with the Waupaca Area Orchestra. The magnificent acoustics of the Gerold will resonate with the sounds of classical music,” said Fehl.
Sipiorski played professionally with a number of orchestras, including the Wisconsin Philharmonic and the Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra and was invited to play at La Musica Lirica Festival in Italy under the direction of pianist Stephen Swedish.
She taught private lessons in Milwaukee and worked with the String Academy of Wisconsin.
The Nov. 3 concert begins at 7 p.m., with the program consisting of Rossini’s Overture to “The Italian Girl in Algiers,” Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 2 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A Major.
David Cole will be the conductor.
Cole teaches at Florida Gulf Coast University, where he conducts the University Strings.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from West Virginia University, a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Iowa, a master of music in violin performance from Baylor University and a doctor of musical arts degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Arizona.
Cole has had a career as a conductor, violinist and educator for the past 25 years.
“He is flying in and will be here all week,” Sipiorski said.
During the week of Oct. 28, the orchestra’s musicians will rehearse on four nights with a morning dress rehearsal on the day of the concert.
“Everyone has the music and has been practicing,” she said.
More than 30 musicians will be on stage.
Sipiorski recruited them from throughout Central Wisconsin, the Fox Valley and beyond.
Liz Barton is coming from the Sacramento area in California and will be the French Horn soloist during the Mozart piece.
Barton is a Wisconsin native whom Sipiorski met when they were both undergrads at UW-Stevens Point.
Sipiorski met Cole years ago when they played together at the Superior String Alliance Festival in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
They kept in touch, and he is the artistic director of the Waupaca Area Orchestra.
The orchestra also includes violinist Kyle Szabo as concertmaster. He is assistant professor of music at Ripon College, where he directs the Ripon College Orchestra.
He received his bachelor’s degree in violin performance from Rutgers University, his master’s degree in violin performance from the Peabody Conservatory and recently completed his doctor of musical arts degree in conducting at James Madison University.
When asked how she decided which pieces would be featured in the inaugural concert, Sipiorski said, “I wanted to do something with Liz. I suggested a Mozart concerto, and she chose that. Beyond that, I talked with David, the artistic director, about what pieces would go well with that, along with our orchestra, our personnel. The Beethoven #7 is a favorite. People who do not know classical music will recongize that.”
The Waupaca Area Orchestra is being partially funded by a grant from the Waupaca Area Community Foundation.
Tickets for the Nov. 3 concert are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.
Advance tickets are available online at www.wegaarts.org and The Coffee Klatsch in Weyauwega, and the Book Cellar in Waupaca.
Sipiorski’s other plans include educational workshops, string classes and more concerts.
A small ensemble will play at the opera house on Sunday, Dec. 2, following Weyauwega’s Christmas tree lighting. The orchestra’s second concert will be held on March 9.