The Coulee Region, including parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa, can be very proud of the many cultural organizations that call this area home. Foremost among those organizations is the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra, Inc. With roots dating back to 1898, the LSO has been serving the cultural needs of this area continuously since 1941. This 2017-18 season marks its 120th year.
The mission of the Symphony is “to provide excellent symphonic music for the pleasure of the public in the tri-state region, educate people of all ages in the symphonic repertoire and tradition, and encourage student and professional musicians to develop and share their musical talents and skills.”
The LSO serves the people, institutions and businesses of this area by elevating the area’s cultural climate. It does this in several ways:
- The LSO provides area residents opportunities to hear live performances of some of the world’s greatest music. In its recent past seasons the LSO has had the opportunity to perform with and feature excellent guest artists such as Simon Mulligan, Rachel Barton Pine, Ilya Yakushev, Mlada Khudoley, Wes Luke, Luke Hubbard, Alessio Bax, Misty’s Dancy Unlimited, and La Crosse Dance Centre, as well as, showcasing new works like “The Miracle of Hanukah,” and the “World Premiere, Commissioned for the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra” James S. Hoch. The interaction between these artists and the orchestra serves to raise the overall performance quality of the orchestra to a significant degree. In addition to performing with the orchestra, many of these guest artists take time while they are here to conduct master classes and to teach area students.
- The LSO provides unique teaching and musical experiences to area students. The LSO presents a Symphony for Youth concert day annually for area public and private school children. Each year over 3,300 children attend these concerts. Through these concerts, third, fourth, and fifth grade students are exposed to the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra as a performing organization and experience first hand examples of classical musical literature. Area college and university students who are involved in various musical organizations are afforded the unique opportunity to perform with an orchestra of high caliber. Last season, for instance, the LSO hosted its 16th annual Rising Stars Concerto Competition in January. The winners of this competition are awarded the opportunity to perform with the LSO at its February concert. The LSO awards eleven String Scholarships to area elementary, middle and high school students for lessons with LSO musicians. As a result of these scholarships, the students involved are able to participate and win local and state competitions.
- The LSO provides performance opportunities for symphonic musicians. Musicians who have achieved high levels of musical ability and successfully auditioned with the LSO find performance opportunities within the LSO which meet their professional goals. The LSO also offers these musicians opportunities to improve their proficiency.
As the LSO enhances the cultural ambiance of this area, it has direct effect on the economic climate, as well:
- Area institutions and businesses seeking professional staff find the presence of the LSO to be a positive factor in their recruitment. A strong area symphony speaks well of the tri-state region’s interest in the arts and culture.
- People who attend the LSO concerts frequently take the opportunity to dine out or stop after the concert. In this way, the LSO is a real contributor to the hospitality industry in our community. An increasing number of our subscribers come from outside the immediate La Crosse area and take advantage of their trip to La Crosse to shop with area merchants.
- The LSO budget has grown with each concert season. It is used primarily to grow its educational programs and to compensate the musicians. As these dollars are spent and re-spent, there is a multiplying effect, which benefits every business.
The LSO enjoys broad support from the communities of which it is a part. Business, foundations and industry support the LSO through partnerships, sponsorships and in-kind contributions. Individuals provide generous voluntary support for classical music in the Coulee Region by:
- Purchasing individual and season tickets,
- Making philanthropic contributions,
- Participating in fund raising events sponsored by the Symphony and its support group the Friends of the Symphony
- Volunteering time and talents to projects
- Sponsoring and Partnering concerts and educational events
This voluntary support is critical to the continued success of the LSO, since 31% of expenses are covered by ticket sales. Through strategic planning the Executive Director and the Board of Directors of the LSO consider carefully the direction in which the organization should move. The direction toward ever increasing artistic excellence is clearly proved by the musical repertoire chosen and the sold-out houses throughout the season.
“The LSO is in a continuing process of developing performances of artistic excellence which enhances the musicians’ abilities and the audience’s appreciation, combining local musicians with the talent from throughout the upper Midwest.”
We plan to improve the orchestral performance in several ways:
- By devoting resources to private tutoring and additional rehearsals
- By recruiting qualified musicians from throughout the tri-state area for selected positions
- By choosing music of increasing challenge
- By choosing soloists of established national and international reputation and recent winners of recognized competitions
- By increasing the number of local performances, as well as, run-out concerts to neighboring communities
In order to meet these goals, the Symphony plans to continue to improve its financial position, developing both a reserve fund for years of higher expense or lower revenues, and a permanent endowment for support of particular positions within the orchestra and to supplement general revenues. To accomplish these ambitious goals, the LSO needs the generous support of all this in our community who value the role the symphony plays in our region’s cultural and economic life.
Each constituent of the LSO will be asked to be a partner in these efforts. We are counting on enthusiastic support.