Symphony prepares for Sunday concert

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 3, 2003

Although it is called the Austin Symphony Orchestra, almost half its members come from outside of the city itself.

"This entails setting aside a larger block of time for rehearsals than the in-city players do, and not being intimidated by night driving and adverse weather conditions," said Marge Dunlap, ASO manager. "If they did not have a love of music, their instrument, and performance, they would not do it."

Classical music fans will see the ASO perform Sunday. The concert begins at 2 p.m. in Knowlton Auditorium at Austin High School.

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"An Orchestral Showcase" features guest soloist Megan Walters, an AHS student, on viola, and Mark Woeste on tuba.

What concertgoers don't understand is the orchestra is a team effort of in-town and out-of-town musicians and orchestra manger Dunlap has chronicled those talented out-of-towners.

Top honor for longevity in the orchestra goes to violinist Orrie Jirele of Albert Lea, who is an original member from the incorporation of the ASO in 1957. He is a retired coach and counselor.

Next in line of musician-commuters is Laverne Walheim, a retired Albert Lea band director who lives in Glenville. He began playing trombone with the group in 1961.

Also from Albert Lea is Debbie Linnes, who has 30 years of playing violin with the ASO. She currently teaches elementary strings and general music at Ellis Middle School.

Carol Kramer is principal of the French horn section. She started with the ASO in November 1984 and lives and teaches in Owatonna.

String bass player Brenda Radloff-Lund played her first concert with the ASO in April 1986, while a high school student. She is now a mother of two children, living in New Ulm.

Debbie Cooper is one of the multi-talented players, who switches from violin to viola as needed. She began in 1988, while teaching strings in Albert Lea, where she still resides and teaches.

Violinist Kristen Simon-Frank, a licensed dietician, has been driving from Hartland since 1992.

Former Austin High School classmates Amy Bungum-Adamson of Rochester and Pat Lewi-DeVinny of Owatonna both started in symphony under director Paul Heltne in 1971.

Pat has played under all five symphony conductors, while Amy rejoined in 1991 to become principal cellist.

The husband and wife team of Charlotte (violin) and Martin (French horn) Peterman are faithful Rochester members who are excited to play with the symphony and began in 1996. Another husband and wife combination, the Rev. Joel and Mary Xavier of Geneva, came in 1997 when Joel became principal timpanist and Mary played bassoon for two years, but has now switched to viola.

Austin Public Library technical services librarian, Gayle Heimer of Osage, Iowa, has been a regular flutist since 1996 as well as her stand partner, Aimee Chalmers of Albert Lea, who is an elementary band instructor in Austin.

Tuba soloist for this upcoming concert, Woeste of Mantorville, has played with the symphony since 1997. He is an instructor in music at Crossroads College in Rochester.

Violinists Joe Anderson of Rochester and Greg Stewart of Byron came together in 1997 He is a radiology technologist at Austin Medical Center and Greg is self employed.

Glenville-Emmons Public Schools third-grade teacher Sue Gillard is completing her second year as clarinetist.

Brittany Wallin of Hartland and Anna Penning of Wells, both young violinists, will be heading off to college next season after two years of participation in the symphony. French Horn player Suzette Kuklok is also in her second year. She teaches grade school music in Owatonna.

New to the violin sections this year are Austin High School freshman Breanna Branstad of Lyle, and Victoria Delgado of Buffalo Center, Iowa, who will be playing her first concert with the symphony after orchestral experience in Colorado.

Owatonna High School senior Amanda Penning is also a new addition in the cello section this season.

"Of course all orchestras have to have a list of substitutes for those occasions when emergencies arise," Dunlap explained.

Completing her out-of-town players for the April 6 concert are Karen Kimble, cello, of Stillwater, bassoonists Christi Springer of Burnsville and Neva LaVeer of South St. Paul, violinist Kerstin Suby of Rochester, and Michelle Roche of Mankato in the percussion section.

"They are kind enough to lend their talents to several orchestras as needed, and are a great addition to any of these groups," said Dunlap.

However, the orchestra manager reserves highest praise for one other out-of-towner.

"The greatest commuter of all is the conductor, Steve Ramsey of Minneapolis, who drives down to Austin approximately 32-35 times each season for rehearsals, meetings, concerts and other necessities. The symphony has never canceled a rehearsal due to inclement weather, as the conductor always makes it. That is dedication."

Tickets for the April 6 concert are available at Black Bart's / Nemitz's and HyVee Food Store, both in Austin, and Tone Music, Albert Lea.

Prices for adults are $8 in advance and $10 at the door and $4 in advance and $5 at the door for college students. Children and teenagers in grades kindergarten through 12 are admitted free of charge, when accompanied by an adult.

The concert is presented in cooperation with the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council, Inc., through funding from the McKnight Foundation and the Minnesota Legislature.

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at