Symphony celebrates 60 years

The Wartburg Community Symphony kicked off its Diamond Jubilee season with “The Ideal Cut” concert on Oct. 20. — Photo courtesy of Marketing and Communication

One of Wartburg’s many music ensembles reached a new milestone.

The Wartburg Community Symphony celebrated its Diamond Jubilee this year. They kicked off their concert season on Oct. 20 with their Homecoming concert, entitled “The Ideal Cut.”

Founded in 1952 by Ernest Hagen, the symphony started out small but grew over its 60 year, Daniel Kaplunas, director of Wartburg Community Symphony, said.

The ensemble that performed in the first concert in 1953 consisted of Wartburg students and faculty and community musicians from Waverly and surrounding areas, Kaplunas said.

“The orchestra was an excellent opportunity for the musicians to enjoy symphonic repertoire,” Kaplunas said.

“I can imagine how thrilled the Wartburg students must have been to play wonderful symphonic music in a real symphony orchestra.”

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The original mission of the group has not changed.

“Our mission remains basically the same- to serve Wartburg College students, to provide an opportunity for community musicians to play in a symphony orchestra, and to give our audiences a gift of symphonic music,” Kaplunas said.

Kaplunas became the newest director in 2011 after taking over for Janice Wade.

While the number of those in the symphony grew, so did the number of people attending each concert, Kaplunas said.

During last year’s concert season, a new record for attendance was set, Kaplunas said.

“It’s a great opportunity to be a part of something so different from band music and actually play classical music that I’m learning as a music major right now,” Katie Rice said.

As the symphony grows, new ways of supporting the group are created. A new foundation to help ensure the future success of the symphony is the newest financial milestone, Kaplunas said.

The Wartburg Community Symphony Association Endowment Fund with the Waverly Community Fund is able to “receive and manage contributions, bequests and charitable gifts to the orchestra,” Kaplunas said.

This fund is designed to help the long-term stability of the group in terms of finances, Kaplunas said.

“The Ideal Cut” was the symphony’s first concert in the symphony’s series this year. For this concert, the Wartburg Community Symphony was joined on stage by pianist Daria Rabotkina for a concert that Kaplunas described as being “the perfect balance between fire and brilliance.”

Rabotkina was the 2007 Concert Artists Guild International Competition winner.

Previous conductors of the symphony were recognized at the concert.

“All of the previous conductors were in attendance except for Wade” Rice said. “They all had either corsages or boutonnieres.”

The Wartburg Community Symphony will put on three other concerts this academic year.

The next concert will be on Dec. 9 and is their holiday concert. This concert will also feature the Wartburg players as they put on Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol,” Kaplunas said.

During concerts, the symphony  partners with other organizations in the area, some professional and some community groups, Kaplunas said.

At last year’s Christmas concert, the Waverly-Shell Rock middle school orchestra and the UNI Suzuki student group joined the Wartburg Community Symphony.

Tickets and season memberships are available at the door at each concert, Kaplunas said. Concerts are free for Wartburg students.

Last year, a new ensemble was created. The Wartburg Chamber Orchestra features young string players from Waverly and surrounding areas, and it is a string only orchestra, Kaplunas said.

“As we look back at our first 60 years— it is amazing how much we have accomplished, how far we have gone from our humble beginnings in 1952,” Kaplunas said.

“Thousands of people— orchestra board members, musicians, audiences, donors— put their hearts and minds together to nurture the orchestra, to support and grow it to where we are today.”

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