The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music datebook: Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Philharmonia kicks off Olbrich Gardens’ free summer concert series, but WYSO loses director Marie Ruetten | May 26, 2010

By Jacob Stockinger

This week’s Best Bet is the occasion for some good news and some bad news.

First, the good news and the Best Bet: On Tuesday, June 1, at 7 p.m., Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras’ Philharmonia Orchestra (below) will perform at Olbrich Gardens, on Madison’s east side, for free – with a $1 donation suggested.

Tom Buchhauser will conduct the program, which includes Schubert “Rosamunde” Overture, Gianini Symphony No. 2, Grainger’s “Mock Morris”; Johann Strauss “Thundering Lightening” Polka and Copland “Variations on a Shaker Melody” and “Chronicles of Narnia.”

“It’s nice summer fare,” says WYSO director Marie Ruetten. “The students love to play it and the public likes to hear it.”

The concert kicks off the Summer Series of musical concerts at Olbrich.

Olbrich’s Summer Concert Series runs on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. from June 1 through July 27

The concerts take place on the Great Lawn (below) of Olbrich’s outdoor gardens. A wide variety of music is highlighted, including jazz, folk, honky-tonk, and much more.

Bring a lawn chair or blanket, pack a picnic, or purchase hotdogs and brats at the Gardens from the Madison East Kiwanis. Picnics are allowed in the Gardens for Tuesday concerts only.

In case of rain, concerts will be held indoors, and the Kiwanis brat and hotdog stand will not be available. A $1 donation is suggested. Concerts are sponsored by the Olbrich Botanical Society.

Here is a link for more information:

Now, the sad news: WYSO director Marie Ruetten (below) is leaving her post.

Ruetten, who has been with WYSO, for the past five years, is finishing up her duties this week before taking a new job Vice-President of Finance and Administration with the international Crane Foundation in Baraboo.

It seems a logical step, given her past career. A native of northern Michigan, Ruetten obtained master’s degrees in music education and music performance (conducting) from Michigan State University.

She spent 14 years teaching band at educational levels from elementary school to undergraduate students. She spent the last six of these years as Director of Bands at Muskego High School and the last five as Music Coordinator for the Muskego-Norway School District (in addition to teaching), and at the same time, earned a Master of Business Administration.

Before coming to WYSO, Marie managed an educational publication line for Hal Leonard Corporation, a major publisher of print music. She is an active bassoonist and guest conductor.

But now Ruetten is leaving music.

“It’s a loss,” admits Rosalind Zerofsky, a member of WYSO’s board of directors.

A national search to replace Ruetten has been under way, she added, noting, “there have been quite a few applicants.” WYSO hopes to name new director in June.

Zerofsky also says that WYSO has finished up the year is good shape.

“We’re in good shape,” she said, after Ruetten’s tenure.

Although this year’s Art of Note fundraising campaign – with old violins and other instruments transformed into works of art — came in a bit lower than its $35,000 goal, overall fundraising has been up from last year. and she described the attendance at last weekend’s series of spring concerts as “fantastic.”

That good. WYSO – which operates on a budget of about $600,000 a year – deserves it.

Nationally, it ranks in the top five or 10 public education classical music educational programs for young people, according to Ruetten, and ison par with New York and Los Angeles.

“We feel fortunate to be in a community that understands the importance of music education,” Ruetten said. “By the end of the fiscal year, we will be in the black – not by a lot, but in the black. We are functioning as non-profits are supposed to because of the generosity of a lot of people.”

“I feel very fortunate to have served a little more than five years,” Ruetten adds. “It’s a fabulous organization, and it is the people who make it what it is whether it’s the students and their families, the staff, the board, the volunteers or the supports. WYSO is doing great work and making a difference in our community. I feel grateful to all of them and fortunate to have been a part of it.”

The statistics back her up. More than 5,000 young musicians from more than 100 communities in southern Wisconsin have participated in WYSO during its 42 years of providing musical opportunities.

Want to know more or work with the organization? Here is a link to WYSO:

Students, parents, listeners or co-workers: Do you have a message you want to leave for Ruetten?

A comment about WYSO in general?

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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