ASO swings into new season Sunday

Published 7:54 am Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Austin Symphony Orchestra will swing into its 61st season at 2 p.m. Sunday in Knowlton Auditorium with the sweet sounds of Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein and Darius Milhaud.

“Swinging at the Symphony,” under the direction of Stephen Ramsey, will also feature special artists, including the Austin Big Band, and soloist Brian Koser. Ramsey begins his 24th season leading the symphony.

Koser, Austin’s longtime community band director, earned his undergraduate degree in instrumental music education music from Lawrence Conservatory of Music and his master’s in saxophone performance from Northwestern University. His graduate work was done under the legendary Fred Hemke. He has made numerous appearances as soloist and guest conductor, including concerto performances at Minnesota State-Mankato and Lawrence University. As a jazz and R&B artist, he has performed with the Temptations, Leslie Gore and the Fifth Dimension.

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Nathan Wradislavsky, the conductor of the Austin Big Band, is an Austin native. He is also choir director at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Austin, and operates a musical instrument repair business.

The lively concert will be filled with music from the Big Band and swing era. Members noted that this concert is particularly poignant in a year filled with controversy about immigration. The contributions of the four composers featured, all from different backgrounds, have connected, inspired and unified Americans:

Austin Symphony Orchestra director Stephen Ramsey. Photo provided

— Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington  (1899-1974) created over 1,000 compositions, often collaborating with others. “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” are two songs the audience will recognize in Sunday’s concert.

He helped transform jazz into an art form on a par with more traditional genres. He earned a posthumous Pulitzer Prize in music in 1999.

— George Gershwin (1898-1937) was an accomplished pianist as well as a composer. Most of his works were composed with his brother, Ira. “You Can’t Take That Away From Me,” and “I Got Rhythm,” are two songs in a number the Austin Big Band will play in Sunday’s concert. Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” is considered one of the most important American operas of the 20th century.

—Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) was a composer, conductor, author, pianist and music lecturer. This upcoming year is the anniversary of his 100th birthday. Bernstein was the first conductor to give a series of television lectures on classical music, starting in 1954. “Candide” and “West Side Story” are among his most beloved works.

— Darius Milhaud’s (1892-1974)  compositions were influenced by American jazz.  A member of a group called Les Six, Milhaud was one of the most prolific composers of the 20th century.  “Scaramouche” will feature Koser as soloist.

A big part of the mission of the Austin Symphony Orchestra is to encourage and nurture the love of music in young people.

The symphony this year has seven high school students and three college students. On Monday, Oct. 30, the Austin Symphony will play “Swinging at the Symphony for fourth, fifth and sixth-grade students from Austin public and parochial schools as well as for students surrounding school districts.

The Austin Symphony Orchestra is a community project. Besides the conductor and the players, support activities come from business manager, Martha Chancellor; personal manager, Laura Larson; symphony Board President, Morgan Dickman and board members; and generous donors.

For more information and ticket information, go to


• Second Gallery Art Show – Renee Sonka and Lori Tapani, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Austin ArtWorks Center. Gallery show featuring the artwork of Renee Sonka and Lori Tapani. For more information, call 507-434-0934 or go to

• Lunchbox History Series, noon to 1 p.m. at the Mower County Historical Society. Sue Doocy will talk about family research and DNA testing. For more information, call 507-437-6082.

• Annual Chicken ’N’ Biscuits Supper and Bake Sale, 3-7 p.m. at First United Methodist Church in Austin. Bake sale starts at 3 p.m., dinner goes from 4-7 p.m. The menu includes chicken, biscuits, coleslaw, pie and coffee. Tickets are $9 for adults and $4 for ages 5-12 years. Children 4 and under are free. Carry outs are available. Handicap accessible. Everyone is welcome.


• Second Gallery Art Show – Renee Sonka and Lori Tapani, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Austin ArtWorks Center.

• Halloween Dinner, noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Mower County Senior Center. Come in for a Halloween Costume Dinner (costume optional, but there will be a prize for the best one). Menu includes spider salad, beef and rice stuffed pepper jack-o-lanterns, autumn-roasted veggies, mashed boo-tatoes, and exploding pumpkins for dessert. Photo op, too. Cost is $7.50 for members, $8.50 for non-members. For more information or to reserve a seat, call 507-433-2370 or stop by the Senior Center front desk.

• Austin Community Playgroup – Halloween Costume Parade, 12:50-1:30 p.m. at Sacred Heart Care Center. Registration required. Put on a costume and meet at the entrance of Sacred Heart Care Center for this special event. For more information, call Sheila at 507-399-1924, or go to

• Bingo, 5:40-7:40 p.m. at the Austin VFW. Early Bird starting at 5:15 pm. Open to the public. For more information, call 507-433-6039.

• Mower County 4-H Ambassador’s Haunted House, 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the Mower County 4-H Building, Mower County Fairgrounds. This event is open to the public. Cost is $5 per person or $20 for a family of 4 or more. Invite your friends and family. It will be a fun night.

• ArtRocks Open Jam Session, 7-9 p.m. at the Austin ArtWorks Center. The house band sets up and hosts the event. Players bring their guitars, basses, horns, sticks, keyboards, washboards, etc, and singers and songwriters bring themselves, their words, and their voices. For more information, call 507-434-0934 or go to


• Second Gallery Art Show – Renee Sonka and Lori Tapani, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Austin ArtWorks Center.

• Spooktacular Craft and Vendor Event, noon to 4 p.m. at Fraternal Order of the Eagles. Crafts, home and yard decor, health and fitness, fashion accessories, beauty and makeup, quilts and blankets. Food and beverages available, too. For more information, email

• Creamed Chicken Dinner and Bazaar, 4:30-7 p.m. at Brownsdale United Methodist Church. Serving creamed chicken over biscuit, hot vegetable, salad bar of homemade salads and fresh baked pie or dessert. Tickets available at the door: Adults – $10, Children 5-12 – $5 and under 5 – Free. Carry-outs are available. Everyone is welcome. For more information, call Susan Amick at 507-567-2644.

• Public Skate, 6-7:30 p.m. at Riverside Arena. $4 to skate and $1 to rent skates. For more information, call 507-433-1881.

Caravan du Nord will stop in Austin Saturday night featuring David Simonett of Trampled by Turtles and his new project Dead Man Winter. Photo provided

• Caravan du Nord – Dead Man Winter, 7:30-9:30 p.m. at the Historic Paramount Theatre. Caravan du Nord is back with this new project from Dead Man Winter featuring David Simonett of Trampled by Turtles, Good Night Gold Dust, and Lydia Liza. Tickets are $10. Doors open at 7 pm; concert starts at 7:30 pm. For tickets or more information, call 507-434-0934 or go to

• Sola Fide Observatory Viewing, 8-9 p.m. at the Sola Fide Observatory. Learn about the night sky from our local experts. For more information, call Keith at 507-440-1244 or email


• Austin Symphony Orchestra: Swingin’ at the Symphony, 2-4:30 p.m. at Knowlton Auditorium, Austin High School. Kick off the ASO’s 61st season by welcoming to the stage Austin’s own Big Band for a set of challenging, multifaceted, and stylistically diverse works written by America’s finest jazz artists. Tickets are also available at the Coffee House on Main Street and Hy-Vee. For more information, go to