My view jerry goodrich

With superb musicians and a talented, charismatic director, the Dakota Valley Symphony and chorus opens its 2014-15 season this week with a program of Broadway show tunes at the Ames Center in Burnsville.

I had coffee with founding music director and conductor Stephen J. Ramsey, to ask him about his musicians and the new concert season.

Q: What would you like people to know about the Dakota Valley Symphony?

A: Many of our musicians have degrees in their instruments, but have chosen to do other things to "keep the wolf away from the door" while pursuing life goals such as raising a family and getting established in a community. For example, Duane Jacobson, our board president and second violinist, is a chemical engineer and leads a process research and development group in water purification technology.

Q: I understand you have an exceptional concertmaster.

A: That we do! We are fortunate to have Angela Waterman Hanson, who has a doctorate in violin performance. Angela studied with Sally O'Reilly, one of the finest violin teachers in the U.S. Our associate concertmaster is Erika Hoogeveen, an outstanding violist with a master's in violin performance.

Q: What do you have planned for this season?

A: The first concert will be at 2 p.m. Oct. 12, and is titled "Afternoon at the Pops: On Broadway." It features music from the Broadway stage. Soprano Julie Brott and her Lakeville South High School Chorale will join our orchestra and chorus for this concert.

We will have nearly 200 instrumentalists and vocalists on stage to fill the concert hall with the familiar sounds of favorites such as "Seventy-Six Trombones" from "The Music Man," and "Memory" from "Cats." The orchestra alone will perform "Symphonic Dances from West Side Story," a beautiful, immensely challenging suite by Leonard Bernstein that I have long wanted to present.

Q: And your other concerts?

A: We will perform Handel's magnificent Messiah twice on Dec. 7. One will be a sing-along. Copies of the score will be available.

Then, on Feb. 8 we will present Gabriel Fauré's Requiem Opus 48. Fauré was organist at Notre Dame Cathedral for many years, and grew tired of all the doom and gloom of traditional funeral music. This piece has an ethereal quality throughout, and features exquisite soprano and baritone solos. Hymnus, a community choir from New Prague, will join us for this performance.

Another piece on this program is Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto in C Minor, performed by our own Elise Molina. Elise is a marvelous pianist with an impressive résumé. Wagner's dramatic Rienzi Overture is also part of this concert.

On March 15 in the Ames Center's intimate Black Box Theater, Skip James, retired harpsichordist with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, will join us for "The Feeling of Baroque Music II," a fun and informative look at the genre.

We will conclude our concert season on April 26 with the winners of our Young Artists' Competition who will perform with the orchestra, followed by Sibelius' powerful Symphony No. 5.

Q: I understand that you have some great news to share.

A: Yes. Mr. Paul Wigley is our new choral director. He directed the chorale at Lake­ville North High School for 14 years. Paul and I have collaborated on many programs,. We are blessed to have him. You should also speak with Paul.

And so I did.

I asked Paul Wigley what his goals for the chorus were. He replied that he would like to see it grow to about 60 excellent vocalists, with a balanced ratio of women to men, and that he wants to make singing with the ensemble enjoyable, stimulating, rewarding, and an opportunity for expression.

When asked what his favorite Broadway show tune was, he replied:

"There are too many to single out just one. I will, however, comment on a song that the chorus will sing: "Sun and Moon" from "Miss Saigon." With orchestral accompaniment, this will be an absolutely gorgeous piece that the audience will much enjoy."

For tickets …

Call 952-895-4680 to purchase tickets. Adult season tickets are $80; $60 for those 65 and over. Individual concert tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $5 for students of any age.

Jerry Goodrich, of Prior Lake, is an occasional guest columnist.