Ottumwa Symphony Season
Thursday, 20 September 2012 06:58


Now that the long, hot, summer is all but a memory and attention turns from outdoors to inside, Ottumwa area musicians are tuning up for the 2012-2013 concert season to satisfy the itch for those who want to get out of the house, mingle and be absorbed by the beauty of music.

One area organization devoted to promoting quality music performances and providing a venue for talented Ottumwa-area musicians to practice their art is the Ottumwa Symphony Orchestra. “Ottumwa has a rich tradition of music,” said Patricia Babb, manager of the Ottumwa Symphony Orchestra. “We have huge numbers of kids that participate in the band and orchestra and we (the Ottumwa Symphony Orchestra) try to keep that alive.”

Babb, one of the founding members of the Ottumwa Symphony Orchestra, which begins its 26th season this month, is no stranger to music. An accomplished musician, Babb held the position of concert mistress—the first violinist in the symphony orchestra—for 20 years, is excited about the upcoming concert season, particularly the new faces in the symphony. “Eric McIntyre from Grinnell College is the new conductor and Nancy McFarland Gaub, also from Grinnell College, is the new concert mistress,” she said.

Ottumwa Symphony Orchestra is a mix of area musicians ranging from high school students to veteran musicians who have one thing in common—they all love to play music. In fact, that’s how the symphony started.

Babb explained that years ago a group of musicians, herself included, played together at the First Presbyterian Church under the direction of the music minister, William Ness. When Ness left, the group decided they didn’t want to stop playing and formed the Ottumwa Symphony Orchestra. “And the rest is history,” she said.

Babb recognizes that many people are reluctant to attend symphonies as they are perceived as stuffy or snooty, but she said that is hardly the case, and uses the orchestra’s summer concert, “Music on the Green,” as a prime example. “It’s basically a pop concert. It’s free to the public and a good way to get your feet wet with the symphony,” she said.

Since the summer event is past Babb suggests that the Oct. 27 season opener, “A Little Nightmare Music,” held at St. John Auditorium at Indian Hills Community College (IHCC), as another great introduction to the symphony. Although classical in nature, the concert selections are recognizable. For instance, the second number of the evening is “Funeral March for a Marionette,” by Charles Gounod, and for those of a certain age it will be recognized as the theme from “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.”

As a whole all selections for the evening have a dark element keeping with the Halloween season. Piano soloist Rene Lecuona will accompany the symphony with “Totentanz” by Franz Liszt, which translated means “Dance of the Dead.” Equally creepy in title is “Danse macabre,” by Camille Saint-Saëns, or, in English, “Dance of Death.”  Trick or Treat anyone?

The symphony has a total of seven events for the 2012-2013 season including the  Symphony Ball at Bridge View Center on Dec. 8 and “25 Men Who Can Cook,” also at Bridge View, on Jan. 26.  The symphony’s winter concert will shift locations to St. John Auditorium on March 2 and the spring concert on April 27 will return to Bridge View. The symphony also will have two outdoor concerts next summer.

The Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra (SEISO), another area music organization, began its season with the first concert, “2012 Pops!,” on Sept. 15 at the Bridge View. 

Led by Robert McConnell, the Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra is based in Mt. Pleasant and performs seasonal concerts in three locations: the St. John Auditorium, Burlington at Memorial Auditorium and Mt. Pleasant at Iowa Wesleyan Chapel Auditorium, as well as special events at Bridge View and other venues. The first seasonal concert—the Fall Concert—will be held at St. John Auditorium on Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m. and will feature music familiar to concert and non-concert goers alike as the first selection is Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man.” If the title doesn’t ring a bell, the music certainly will.

The Southeast Iowa Symphony will hold a special event on Saturday, Nov. 10 at St. John, “Kidsymphony!,” an event designed to introduce families and young children to the orchestra. To take the edge of the winter blues, the symphony’s winter concert will be held Saturday, Feb.16 at St. John Auditorium and will feature the winner of the SEISO Young Artist competition. The Spring Concert, also at St. John Auditorium, will be held Sunday, March 24 and will feature the music of Weber, Mozart and Falla. 

Complementing both of the area orchestras is the Ottumwa Civic Music Association (OCMA), and it too is offering a concert season line up with something for everybody.

Kicking off the OCMA’s 2012-2013 season is “The Hunts.” This family of nine musicians, vocalists and dancers performs a range of music from folk rock to Celtic to bluegrass and Americana, including original compositions. The Hunts will perform on Nov. 2 at Ottumwa High School at 7:30 p.m.

Other musical offerings from OCMA for the season include the Iowa Woodwind Quintet on Feb. 1 and “Intersection,” a classical music trio known for their fusion of the traditional and the surprising, will perform at IHCC on March 14. Rodney Mack’s Philadelphia Big Brass, a quintet of America’s top brass musicians, will round out the season with a performance at Bridge View on April 28.

Ottumwa area music associations are committed to bringing quality musical performances to their listening audience and the 2012-2013 season proves to do just that.

More information concerning these performances can be found at the following websites:

www.OttumwaSymphonyOrchestra. net ocmaconcerts/



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