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Symphony Plugs into Trans-Siberian Orchestra Talent

ElectrifyYourStrings_MarkWoodBY JOY WICK

School residency program will culminate in community concert.

Sometimes you need a big name to electrify a community. Or a generation of musicians.

That’s what the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra is hoping will happen when recording artist and electric violinist Mark Wood visits the city for a weeklong school residency program that culminates with a community concert.

Wood has extensive background in the music industry and is most known for his work with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Celine Dion and Billy Joel.

“If this opportunity even comes along in any capacity, you jump on it,” says Miyoko Grine-Fisher, managing director of the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra.

The orchestra is hosting Wood and his education program, Electrify Your Strings, in March. The community concert on March 8 will include more than 200 musicians on stage, and likely fill Alberta Kimball Auditorium, Grine-Fisher says.

Wood’s rock ‘n’ roll program takes the Orchestra outside of its comfort zone in classical music, she says. But that is a good thing.

“We want to make music accessible, and create opportunity for our community, and especially students, to enjoy it together.

Music can be that common thread to unite a community,” she says.

Wood will work with students in public and private schools in Oshkosh leading up the concert, which will include the Oshkosh Youth Symphony Orchestra, Oshkosh high school choirs and members of the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra.

The rocker-style residency program will give the Symphony a new way to connect with a younger generation of musicians, Grine-Fisher says. Wood’s program incorporates technology that expands students’ perceptions of what they can do with their instruments. “The students will see how they can create those sounds, use those techniques, improve their skills and be creative with composition,” Grine-Fisher says. “While playing alongside a musician of this caliber, they may see that their dreams are really tangible, and figure out what they need to do to make it happen.”

Electrify Your Strings is supported in part by a grant from the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation. It was one of 12 Community Arts grants totaling $41,776 to be awarded this year.

Community Arts grants are supported by the Fund for the Arts, Arts in Our Daily Lives Fund and the Margaret Tabbert Fund, with additional support from the Wisconsin Arts Board. The following organizations have received funding for programming through 2015:

Hysterical Productions – Support for education and outreach during the community theatrical productions of “The Crucible,” “The Importance of Being Earnest,” and “Godspell.”

Jazz Corner Society – Support for one of the headline acts during Fox Jazz Festival in Neenah.

Opera for the Young – Support for performances of “Beauty and the Beast” for children in Winnebago County elementary schools.

Oshkosh Chamber Singers – Support for the 2015 spring concert, Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D Minor, in collaboration with another choral group.

Oshkosh Choraliers – Support for the May 2, 2015, spring concert highlighting Gospel swing, standard jazz and music of the Broadway show “Sister Act.”

Oshkosh Festivals Inc. – Support for youth outreach by Sean-Nos Dancers in conjunction with the annual Irish Festival.

Oshkosh Opera House Foundation – Support for six, free mini performances by illusionist Bill Blagg at unconventional community venues, including locations that serve residents’ basic needs.

Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra – Support for a community concert on March 8, 2015, featuring Mark Wood of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Paine Art Center and Gardens – Support for educational programs and outreach activities complementing the Matisse as Printmaker exhibition.

Reach Counseling Services – Support for an art therapy program for teen girls who have survived sexual assault.

Thrasher Opera House Corp. – Support for a series of performances and events as part of the Opera House’s 16th season.

VSA Arts of Wisconsin Inc. – Support for the VSA Choir of Oshkosh, which helps adults with disabilities develop musical skills and perform public concerts.

The Oshkosh Area Community Foundation is a nonprofit charitable organization created by and for the people of Winnebago County, Waushara County, Green Lake County and Ripon. Through charitable giving, the Community Foundation strives to make our communities thrive. For more information, call 920.426.3993.

Joy Wick is Marketing Coordinator for the OACF.

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