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The First 40 Years

Beginning Through The First Decade 1973 – 1983

 1971 - 1972  •  Getting it together

Committee forms to plan a Community Orchestra to replace the Warren Consolidated Schools string program, lost to budget constraints.

1972 - 1973  •  Coalescing

Bruce Harris, successful executive with AT&T,  joins the committee, enlarges and strengthens it to form the Warren Symphony Society.

Year 1  •  1973 - 1974  •  First Concert a Success

President: Bruce Harris

Highlights: David Daniels selected as Music Director.

Concerts: First concert, May 5, 1974. Huge bank of lights fell center stage just before concert; didn’t kill or maim anyone.

Year 2  •  1974 - 1975  •  Full Season with Snow

President: Charles Daugherty

Highlights: Huge snowstorm December 1 closed down all of Detroit; concert was postponed until January 1975.

Concerts: First cabaret-pops, October20, 1974–tickets $6. Gary Schunk, pianist. ‘Music of the 20’s; period dress optional. Commissioned personnel manager Sidney James Blair for illusions/approaches (city), an orchestral piece that bristled with electronic gimmicks (with grant from Michigan Council for the Arts).

Year 3  •  1975 - 1976  •  Support Expands

President: Rose Pagel     Executive Director: George Lowin

Highlights: CETA (Comprehensive Employment and Training Act), a federal law (1973) to train workers and provide them with public service jobs, provided a full-time staff of 5 (way too many!) for the WSO, through the efforts of Chuck Daugherty, past president. WSO office at 4504 East 9 Mile Road rented from Mrs. Dora Hesse for $1 per year; we stayed there for three decades and counting.

Concerts: Gary Schunk again in November. Poulenc Gloria in February. A Salute to Poland in April (all Polish music, including a premiere, and Polish guest artists). Cabaret in May was ‘An Evening in Vienna’.

Year 4  •  1976 - 1977  •  Official Program-note Writer Begins

President: Frank Jeannette    Executive Director: Alec (‘chip’) Treuhaft

Highlights: Kingsley Sears became quasi-official program-note writer; carries on for another 35 years and counting! Alex C. Treuhaft serves one season as WSO manager; goes on to a major career in international artist management.

Concerts: Season substantially expanded: All-Beethoven concert (November), Christmas concert with Detroit Edison Glee Club, Rodgers & Hammerstein cabaret (with Bob Allison) at Hillcrest (January), Youth concert (February), guitar soloist in March and in April, ‘A Salute to Italy’. Outdoor runout in June to GM Tech Center–nice program of light classics but cancelled because of rain.


Year 5  •  1977 - 1978  •  Traditions Begin

President: Frank Jeannette     Executive Director: Dick Eisenstein

Highlights: Dick Eisenstein appointed manager, in the first of his 14 highly successful seasons with WSO. At the invitation of Fr. Raymond J. Marshall, the WSO begins a series of annual concerts at St. Dorothy Church in Warren: a series that continued for 15 years (through 1991).4 subscription concerts for $12, a runout to Lakeside Mall in March and Warren Fine Arts Fair in June.

Concerts: Ani Kavafian, violinist, guest artist; our first soloist of international stature and reputation. Her appearance greatly assisted by the presence of her mother Peruz Zerounian, and stepfather Ara Zerounian, as members of the orchestra since 1976. Also a cabaret (Cole Porter), a pops (Lerner & Loewe) and a youth concert.

Year 6  •  1978 - 1979  •  More Traditions

President: Frank Jeannette     Executive Director: Dick Eisenstein

Highlights: General Motors began a tradition of sponsoring opening night.

Concerts: Messiah in December with the Kenneth Jewell Chorale. Hillcrest cabaret featured the Austin-Moro Band playing with the orchestra. Youth concert; Lakeside Mall runout. Ended season with Beethoven 9th in May, with Rackham Symphony Chorus and soloists Glenda Kirkland, Christina Romana Lypeckyj, Carl Saloga, & Bob Branch.

Year 7  •  1979 - 1980  •  Accolades Begin

President: Everett Baugh     Executive Director: Dick Eisenstein

Highlights: 143% increase in subscriptions over previous season! Opening night gala in the GM Tech Center Design Staff Auditorium (program cover was a photo of the dome, looking like something out of science fiction). Recorded an LP of arias and art songs with soprano Christina Romana Lypeckyj. CETA staff down to three persons.

Concerts: In February: performance of David Del Tredici’s Final Alice, which was later chosen by the Free Press as one of the 10 best performances of the 1979-1980 season in metro Detroit.

Year 8  •  1980 - 1981  •  Out and About

President: Donald H. Chmura     Executive Director: Dick Eisenstein

Highlights: 5 subscription concerts.

Concerts: Ida Kavafian, violin soloist (Ani’s sister, and daughter of our concertmaster, and step-daughter of our principal viola, and an international figure in her own right).Candace Goetz (soprano) and Gary Schunk (piano) both back. Messiah again. Richard Rodgers cabaret at Hillcrest. Youth concert. Runout: ‘Art on the Boulevard’ in July.

Year 9  •  1981 - 1982  •  Podium Exchange

President: Donald H. Chmura     Executive Director: Dick Eisenstein

Highlights: 3 concerts at the Tech Center: Opening night and March at the Fisher Body Auditorium (with very shaky platforms for the piano and soloist); and April in the Design Staff Auditorium (the dome). Podium exchange for March concert: William Stein of the Battle Creek Symphony led the WSO; Daniels went to Battle Creek. Runout concert in July was rained out after one 3-minute Wagner overture.

Concerts: ‘All-American’ in March and Berlioz Requiem in April, with, with cast of thousands (well, actually hundreds): 2 choruses and 2 orchestras 198 singers, orchestra of 116, plus 1 conductor = 315.

Year 10  •  1982 - 1983  •  Youth Concerts Begin

President: Robert Tower     Executive Director: Dick Eisenstein

Highlights: Beginning of youth concerts in the pattern that was used for years (2 concerts per morning; kids bussed to central venue). A pair of concerts at the Macomb Center for the Utica Schools in February.

Concerts: Cantata Academy in December.

The Second Decade 1983 – 1993

Year 11  •  1983 - 1984  •  A Decade of Excellence

President: William J. Duross     Executive Director: Dick Eisenstein

Highlights: A Decade of Excellence, 1974-1984′ (even though it was our 11th season).

Concerts: Joins with the General Motors Employees’ Chorus in a concert (semi-staged) performance of Bizet’s Carmen, with Christina Romana Lypeckyj in the title role. Cabaret ‘By Strauss.’

Year 12  •  1984 - 1985  •  Buy American Tradition

President: Glen Musselman     Executive Director: Dick Eisenstein

Highlights: Cabaret at Royalty House in memory of Thomas Carey: ‘Buy American.’

Concerts: WSO debut of Susan Sobolewski, pianist, in February; Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in recognition of Bach’s 300th birthday.

Year 13  •  1985 - 1986  •  Endowment Established

President: Glen Musselman     Executive Director: Dick Eisenstein

Highlights: GM continues to sponsor opening night; played Saturn from Holst’s The Planets in honor of GM’s new Saturn vehicle. Endowment fund established via gift of Dora Hesse with 11 other contributors.

Concerts: Messiah at St. Dorothy’s, with Cantata Academy; Beethoven 9th in April, with Rackham Symphony Choir. Cabaret at Thomas’ Crystal Gardens: ‘Music from Broadway & Hollywood;’ house was scaled: $12 or $9.

Year 14  •  1986 - 1987  •  Outreach – Pops and Holidays

President: Albert Gutierrez, Jr.     Executive Director: Dick Eisenstein

Highlights: In January a special ‘Classical Pops’ advertised as free to subscribers. Flavio Varani scheduled to play Villa-Lobos‘ Momoprecoce, but the music never arrived from the publisher, despite promise after promise. Fortunately Flavio was able to play it as a solo piece, preceded by a charming little lecture about the work.

Concerts: Engaged by Macomb Center to accompany Peter Schickele (aka P.D.Q.Bach) in November; Christmas concert at Bethesda Temple, conducted by David Mairs. Special Good Friday performance of the original (orchestral) version of Haydn’s Seven Last Words from the Cross with homilies by a mix of preachers representing seven different denominations.

Year 15  •  1987 - 1988  •  Diversity

President: Albert Gutierrez, Jr.     Executive Director: Dick Eisenstein

Highlights: Steve Millen new personnel manager, replacing John Dion, who continues as Principal Horn. Six subscription concerts. Podium exchange in January: David Daniels goes to Venezuela to conduct the Maracaibo Philharmonic in a concert; Maracaibo maestro Eduardo Rahn comes to Warren. Performance with the Grupo España dancers at the Masonic in Detroit, through the efforts of Albert Gutierrez, Jr., President of WSO.

Concerts: Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring in November; Schubert impersonator in February; Brahms Requiem in April; ‘Classical Pops II’ in May. Special operatic concert at Italian-American Cultural Center. Accompanied Jack Jones at Macomb Center in September. Cabaret: ‘A Night in Vienna’ (Warren mayor Ronald Bonkowski conducted a work).


Year 16  •  1988 - 1989  •  Year of the Piano

President: Thomas J. Marini     Executive Director: Dick Eisenstein

Highlights: Back to five subscription concerts.

Concerts: One included the Detroit Lutheran Singers. ‘Classical Pops Returns’ included Mayor Ronald Bonkowski reciting Copland’s Lincoln Portrait. Season advertised as ‘The Year of the Piano,’ because there happened to be lots of piano soloists, including a duo-piano team. Cabaret: ‘Tribute to Arthur Fiedler’ performed in memory of Robert S. Tower, who had died in 1980.

Year 17  •  1989 - 1990  •  Eight Youth Concerts

President: Thomas J. Marini     Executive Director: Dick Eisenstein

Highlights: Cabaret: ‘The Fabulous Forties.’ Up to 8 youth concerts (4 pairs).

Concerts: Carmina Burana (Orff) with the Cantata Academy. Christmas concert had the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church Male Chorus (amazing African-American group led by Jimmie Abbington). Premiere of Elaine Lebenbom’s Gematria.

Year 18  •  1990 - 1991  •  Michigan Arts Financial Support Ceases – Roast Tradition Begins

President: Lubomyr A. Lypeckyj     Executive Director: Dick Eisenstein

Highlights: Funding from Michigan Council for the Arts canceled in mid-season, after a major grant had been awarded, but not paid. Musicians played last two concerts knowing that they would not be paid for months and very fine concerts they were.

Concerts: Return of the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church Choir (men and women this time).


Year 19  •  1991 - 1992  •  Retrenching

President: Donald H. Chmura     Executive Director: none

Highlights: Financial disaster: WSO could have gone totally under, but struggled to survive via an emergency committee of musicians and board members. Roast of Mayor Ronald Bonkowski in April inaugurated the series of successful fund-raisers, sparked mainly by Francis M. Scripter. Dora Hesse dies at the age of 97 (born February5, 1894) and bequeaths her office building to the WSO, which has been occupying it for many years. The building is renamed ‘The Dora Hesse House.’

Concerts: A season of only 2 subscription concerts, 6 youth concerts, and one pops (sight-read with no rehearsal!) at the ritzy Roostertail in Detroit.

Year 20  •  1992 - 1993  •  Slow Growth

President: Donald H. Chmura     Executive Director: Douglas Krieger

Highlights: A 4-concert subscription for $35 — limping back to normalcy!

Concerts: Included excerpts from Puccini’s Tosca, including Act III complete; a Messiah at St. Martin de Porres Church with interpolated carols; and ending with a return of pianist Mykola Suk. A brass quintet also donated their services for a concert for Croatian-Bosnian relief, as the conflict in that area of the world worsened.

The Third Decade 1993 – 2003

Year 21  •  1993 - 1994  •  Mahler Project Starts

President: Donald H. Chmura     Executive Director: Kurt B. Smith

Highlights: Subscription season back to five concerts. Newsletter inaugurated by John Chmura. September: Roast of Sheriff William Hackel. Six youth concerts (3 pairs.)

Concerts: Beginning of a Mahler cycle that brought a major work of Mahler each season (musicians loved it; audience not so much); in November 1993, the Mahler Symphony No.5. The Brazeal Dennard Chorale in December. A return of guest conductor Eduardo Rahn in February, while David Daniels conducted Rahn’s Orchestra Sinfonica de Maracaibo.


Year 22  •  1994 - 1995  •  A Sell Out!

President: John Ahern     Executive Director: Kurt B. Smith

Highlights: A performance with the Eisenhower Dance Ensemble at the Macomb Center was a complete sellout; patrons were being turned away at the door, and this on a night Baryshnikov was dancing in downtown Detroit! Roast of Frank Jeannette.

Concerts: Soloists included Elizabeth Parcells, soprano; Louis Nagel, pianist; Ani Kavafian, violinist.

Year 23  •  1995 - 1996  •  Best Roast Ever

President: John Ahern     Executive Director: Kurt B. Smith

Highlights: Roast of Francis M. Scripter (‘Scrip’) our best-attended and most successful ever.

Concerts: Performed Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony with 2 choruses and large orchestra, in memory of the late Frank Jeannette.

Year 24  •  1996 - 1997  •  Remembering One of Our Own

President: Louise Rossi Anslow

Highlights: Death of longtime concertmaster Peruz Zerounian; April 20 subscription concert is dedicated to her memory.

Concerts: Nutcracker ballet, with the Oakland Festival Ballet at Macomb Center.

Year 25  •  1997 - 1998  •  Warrenite Premiere

President: Louise Rossi Anslow

Highlights: Premiere of L’Chaim by Warren resident Matthew Deneka. Roast: Ted Wahby.

Concerts: Season featured Organist Dave Wagner in the Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony and Three Sopranos’ (Jan Albright, Ellen Chickering, Barbara Wiltsie). Concertmaster Elizabeth Rowin solos in Prokofiev concerto. Non-subscription Nutcracker at the Macomb Center (Michigan Ballet Theatre).

Year 26  •  1998 - 1999  •  Celebrate a Quarter Century Mark

President: Jeffrey S. Cutter

Highlights: Roast: Mayor Mark Steenbergh. Orchestra engaged to accompany the Great Lakes Youth Ballet Theatre.

Concerts: Repetition of the very first WSO concert, 25 years later, including also a Variations for the Occasion, composed by David Daniels on the tune ‘Happy Birthday’. James Higginbottom’s Class Act Singers perform in December. Sleeping Beauty ballet by Michigan Ballet Theatre.

Year 27  •  1999 - 2000  •  Kids Composing and Turning the Centuries

President: Jeffrey S. Cutter

Highlights: Major grant from Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan enables commissioning of a concerto (Karl Boelter: Concerto for Violin & Orchestra) as well as ‘Kids Composing’ a unique and innovative program of group compositions by elementary students. WSO named ‘Outstanding Community Orchestra’ in the Detroit Music Awards, given by the Motor City Music Award Foundation. Roast: Frank Beckmann.

Concerts: Theme: ‘Turning the Centuries’: music from the turn of the century around 1700, 1800, 1900, and 2000. Includes premiere of commissioned Violin Concerto by Karl Boelter, with Elizabeth Rowin as soloist. Additional concert featuring two youth soloists from the WSO youth concert series: Lisa Wang and Jeffrey Meng, both pianists. Engaged to accompany the Kyiv Ballet of the National Opera of Ukraine, at Macomb Center, in Nutcracker.


Year 28  •  2000 - 2001  •  Outstanding Community Orchestra

President: Jeffrey S. Cutter

Highlights: Named ‘Outstanding Community Orchestra’ in the Detroit Music Awards, given by the Motor City Music Award Foundation. Roast: Judge Peter Maceroni.

Concerts: Opened the season with a non-subscription gala pops concert featuring Broadway Classics (singers from Michigan Opera Theatre). Commissioned four works by emerging Michigan composers: Kathy Zuziak, Terry Ross, Tom Dennis, and Matthew Deneka. First ever fully-staged opera, produced in cooperation with Oakland University: a double bill of Amahl and the Night Visitors, and Stanley Hollingsworth’s Harrison Loved His Umbrella.

Year 29  •  2001 - 2002  •  More Diversity

President: Jeffrey S. Cutter

Highlights: Roast: Pete Waldmeir.

Concerts: November: Violin soloist Hai Xin Wu sprained the thumb of his bow arm in the first movement of the Tchaikovsky concerto; he gamely went on to finish the whole work, though in considerable pain. November: massed youth choirs at St. Edmund Church. World premiere of Catherine Rollin’s Concerto Romantique with young soloist June Wu. Accompanied blues legend Corky Siegel at the Macomb Center.

Year 30  •  2002 - 2003  •  More Awards

President: Richard Palmer

Highlights: Named for the third time ‘Outstanding Community Orchestra’ in the Detroit Music Awards, given by the Motor City Music Award Foundation. Roast: Representative Sander Levin (U.S. Congress)

Concerts: Messiah with the Fort Street Chorale, conducted by Edward Kingins. Premiere of David Stewart’s Overture in F. Celebrated Berlioz’ 200th birthday with the Fantastic Symphony and its little-known sequel Lélio, or The Return to Life (the latter believed to be a Michigan premiere.)

Fourth Decade 2003 – 2013

Year 31  •  2003 - 2004  •  Youth and Vitality

President: Richard Palmer

Highlights: Roast: Anthony V. Marrocco.

Concerts: Young soloists in November: cellist Erik Ásgeirsson, pianist Lisa Wang, and massed Suzuki string students of retiring WSO bassist Laura Sias. Avondale HS Choir for Christmas concert. Return appearance of Eisenhower Dance Ensemble (at Macomb Center). Pan-Jumbies Steel Band brings the house down in a work for steel pans and orchestra.

Year 32 • 2004-5 • Premieres and Guests

President: Randolph E. Happel / J. Lajack

Highlights: Roast: Sheriff Mark A. Hackel, whose father had been roastee in 1993.

Concerts: November: ‘Americans All,’ celebrating the 150th birthday of John Philip Sousa, and a premiere of David Nisbet Stewart’s Civil War epic, Cindy, O Cindy, conducted by Michael Gielniak. February, WSO premieres James Hartway’s Island Dances, with two harp soloists: our own Kerstin Allvin, and Korean harpist Jung Wha Lee, flown in from Paris for the occasion

Year 33  •  2005 - 2006  •  Youth Concerts at their Height

President: Richard Palmer

Highlights: Glenn Andersen becomes Personnel Manager and makes important reforms. He also conducts the Youth Concert series (10 concerts; 5 pairs). Roast: Richard Paul Sulaka.

Concerts: Performance of Ellis Island, with cast of actors and projections, wrings every heart in November. Guest Douglas Bianchi conducts Copland’s Billy the Kid on the same all-American concert. Premiere of Glenn McClure’s Caribbean Christmas Mass, with Dakota High School Choir and the Southpaw Isle Steel Pan Ensemble.

Year 34  •  2006 - 2007  •  Riding High

President: Richard Palmer

Highlights: Named again ‘Outstanding Community Orchestra’ in the Detroit Music Awards, given by the Motor City Music Award Foundation, in a tie with the Dearborn Symphony. Scripter Warren Symphony Endowment Fund reaches a high watermark of well over $700,000. Francis Scripter devotes his 90th birthday celebration to a WSO benefit. Roast: Daniel A. Pasque.

Concerts: Accompanied Robert Goulet at Macomb Center for Performing Arts. Premiere: Phyllis Wolfe White’s The First Breath of Winter for chorus and orchestra. ‘The Greatest Generation’ concert in cooperation with the Macomb Cultural Center; included Warren Community Chorus and Macomb Community Chorus. R.R. Bennett’s Four Freedoms with projections of Norman Rockwell paintings. April: Last-minute soloist substitution: Kazimierz Brzozowski for Piotr Oczkowski

Year 35  •  2007 - 2008  •  Contraction Foreshadowing

President: Joyce Lajack

Highlights: Roast: Jim Riehl; Sherri Magno appointed Personnel Manager; brings new rigor to the job. Youth concerts much reduced due to fewer reservations; however, coloring contest added to extend the learning experience beyond the concert.

Concerts: Non-subscription pops (Rodgers & Hammerstein) in September. Bach Magnificat in December at Macomb Center for Performing Arts. Gregory Cunningham guest conducts Freischütz Overture (Weber). March 16 concert devoted to music of celebrated composer Robert Ward (age 90). Part of a Robert Ward festival in collaboration with Wayne State University and Dearborn Symphony. The composer was in attendance. Erik Ásgeirsson, cellist who first soloed at youth concerts, ends the season with Dvorak concerto.

Year 36  •  2008 - 2009  •  Season of Change – Music Director Retirement and Recession Begins

President: Joyce Lajack

Highlights: Music Director David Daniels announces his planned retirement; a blue-ribbon search committee chaired by Renee Tegel goes into overdrive. Nationwide recession hits; to reduce expenditures, cutbacks to rehearsals and musicians, and finally the fifth subscription concert canceled; six sister orchestras agreed to honor WSO tickets for May 3, 2009 at their final concerts of the season. Number of WSO subscribers requesting a refund? Zero. Roast: Mayor Jim Fouts

Concerts: Back by popular demand: Peter Boyer’s Ellis Island with actors and projections, in conjunction with an immigration exhibit at the Lorenzo Cultural Center. December concert featured Macomb Children’s Chorus. The third subscription concert saw the world premiere of David Stewart’s Piano Concerto. The fourth, back at the Macomb Center marked our first successful use of projected translations of a song cycle sung by Lisa Agazzi An anonymous donor underwrote a free event at St. Sylvester Church: Haydn’s Seven Last Words from the Cross in the orchestral version with interspersed homilies by clergy of various denominations. Full house.

Year 37  •  2009 - 2010  •  Search for a New Conductor

President: Philip Mastin III

Highlights: Four subscription concerts – two each for the two top candidates for the position of Music Director. ChoiceTix project in cooperation with other area orchestras. Gregory Cunningham offered the position of Music Director for 2010-2011. Roast: Gus Ghanam

Concerts: Season: ‘We Play Favorites’ – November: American Favorites (Riccinto); December: Christmas Favorites (Cunningham); February: Film Favorites (Riccinto); April: Conductor’s Favorites (Cunningham). Youth concerts reduced to 4 performances (2 days) led by David Daniels, with youth soloist Elizabeth Xiong, piano.

Year 38  •  2010 - 2011  •  A New Era Begins

President: Myrle Hughes

Highlights: Season reduced further to three concerts, all led by new Music Director Gregory Cunningham. Benefit event honoring David & Jimmie Sue Daniels replaces annual Roast; raises enough to start a new separate endowment fund, Francis Scripter issued a $50,000 matching fund. Emphasis on youth. ChoiceTix continues.

Concerts: November: all-orchestral: ‘Brahms, Barber and Botticelli.’ December: featured the Macomb Children’s Chorus, together with composer Phyllis Wolfe White, who conducted some of her own music. April: featured the Suzuki String Studio of Laura Sias, former Principal Bass of the WSO, and donor of the endowed principal bass chair. Youth concerts featured Nathaniel Stookey’s “The Composer is Dead” with Rick Carver as Inspector; stage direction by Karen Sheridan. A coloring contest was part of the package.

Year 39  •  2011 - 2012  •  Rebirth, Resurgence, Resounding Energy

President: Myrle Hughes

Highlights: Slogan: Rebirth, Resurgence, Resounding Energy’. Return to four subscription concerts with added special event: ‘Muse of Fire’, a one-man play by and starring David Katz, about legendary conductor Charles Bruck. The April concert dedicated to the memory of Charlotte Scripter, 1915-2012. Roast: Judge John Chmura

Concerts: November: Fantastic Fantasies – Berlioz to Vaughan Williams (all orchestral); December: Holiday Voices, featuring the Oakland Chorale; February: Continental Kaleidoscope with the Bernard Woma Ensemble; included workshop for percussionists by Bernard Woma. Also Kodaly’s Hary Janos Suite with a real (imported) cimbalom and player (an instrument usually faked on piano); April: Concerning Concertos featuring Laura Melton, piano, Kevin Puts Millennium Canons; Brahms Concerto no.1; Bartok Concerto for Orchestra; also preceded by a piano master class with Dr. Melton.

Year 40  •  2012 - 2013  •  Let’s Celebrate

President: Myrle Hughes

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