The Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra, including some NIU students, opened its 10th season Sunday with “An Afternoon of Pops” at the Egyptian Theater.
Conductor Arthur Montzka said the orchestra includes residents of DeKalb and non-music majors at NIU. “The students are part of the campus string orchestra, something we started recently. People think we are affiliated with Kishwaukee College, but we take our name from the river.”
Sunday marked Carrie Brantley’s last concert as manager of the KSO. Brantley, a violinist, received a commemorative plaque from Diane Wells, a member for 10 years, before the intermission. “We (the orchestra) would not be performing on the stage of the Egyptian without Carrie’s help. She has kept us together,” Wells said.
Brantley said the orchestra was formed to allow musicians to use their talents in an orchestral setting. “We are right where we need to be, in front of an audience. Some of us are doctors, some are store owners, some are professors and some are moms like me,” Brantley said.
Montzka, in his eighth year as KSO conductor, teaches strings and orchestras at the DeKalb public schools. He was a professor at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music for four years. Montzka said anyone who is interested in playing in the orchestra should contact him. “We have openings in all the sections, especially strings. The orchestra is for everyone, and we have a good time.”
obert Buggert, president of the KSO board of directors, thanked the Kishwaukee Symphony Associates for raising funds, providing publicity and holding receptions for the orchestra after concerts. “Their successful efforts have been a major contribution to the steady growth of this organization.”
Vocal soloists Denny Vaupel and Laurel Farrell were featured at Sunday’s concert. They sang highlights from “Sophisticated Ladies,” “Cats” and “They’re Playing Our Song.”
Vaupel said he is the music director for Waterman Community Schools and a member of the DeKalb Festival Chorus. Farrell said she is the choral music director at Plainfield High School. Together they work as a piano-bar duo “Honey on the Rocks.”
Montzka said the orchestra practices at the NIU Music Building and presents four concerts every season at the Egyptian.