The new partnership between the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra (OSO) is off to a “breathtaking” start.
So says Dylan Chmura-Moore, UW Oshkosh’s director of orchestral activities, who helped bring the two parties together and who now serves as OSO music director.
“I couldn’t imagine having the support from the community we’ve had,” he said, “and the buy-in from the University has been equally lovely to see.”
The rejuvenated OSO will present its first concert of the season—and first in nearly four years—at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in UW Oshkosh’s Music Hall. It’s titled Invigorate.
After a period where the future of the OSO was uncertain because of waning support and an extended hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, Chmura-Moore stepped up with the idea of partnering the nonprofit and the University and reimagining the organization that’s been around more than 80 years. He’s worked the past year to execute the plan and, more recently, began to assemble the orchestra.
“In early August, the OSO basically didn’t exist anymore. We had a brand new model and zero people in the orchestra,” he said. “ … I think we’re now at about 67 or so musicians. It has been a really big transformation in a pretty short amount of time.
“Boy, if I would have known these numbers six months ago, I would’ve been tickled pink.”
The newly formed orchestra is an eclectic group, including people who’ve played with the previous iteration of the OSO and others who are new. Chmura-Moore said there are 18-year-old UWO students, 75-year-old retirees and just about everyone in between. Part of the plan for the partnership is giving the younger musicians opportunities to learn from those with sometimes decades of professional experience.
The blending of community members, UWO students, alumni and faculty also is a great encapsulation of what Chmura-Moore sees as one of the grand purposes of music: to bring people together.
“These are people who would never know each other, never be in the same circles unless they had something like this to bring them together,” he said. “Through different political views or religious beliefs or cultural upbringing or origins in the world or generations—I think it’s a great way for us to come together and find community.”
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Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra presents Invigorate
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14
Where: UW Oshkosh Music Hall, 1001 Elmwood Ave., Oshkosh
Featuring: Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto will be performed by internationally recognized artist Eli Kalman
Tickets: $10, available at the door and oshkoshsymphony.com