The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra music director Andrew Sewell and the John and Carolyn Peterson Charitable Foundation are this year’s winners of the Rabin Youth Arts Awards given by the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO).

February 9, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) Board of Directors late Friday named the 2013 Rabin Youth Arts Awards recipients. Below is the essential information, based on WYSO’s press release, with some other facts added.

Andrew Sewell (below), the music director and conductor of the Madison-based Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, will be recognized for Artistic Achievement by an Individual.

Andrew Sewell casual

The John and Carolyn Peterson Charitable Foundation, Inc., based in the Milwaukee suburb of Brookfield, Wisconsin, will be recognized for Philanthropic Achievement by an Organization.

The awards will be presented by Barbara Lawton (below), former Lt. Governor and Chair of the Wisconsin Arts Board, at Arts Wisconsin’s Arts Day, March 13, 2013 at the Concourse Hotel in Madison.  A large, statewide group of nominators submitted numerous deserving individuals and organizations, representing all arts mediums.  (Full disclosure: The Ear was one of the judges.)

Barbara Lawton

Andrew Sewell, born and educated in New Zealand and now an American citizen, has been a consistent and strong advocate for youth orchestras and youth arts in general throughout his tenure as music director of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (WCO), which is pictured below in the overture center’s Capitol Theater, where it performs its winter Masterpiece series. The WCO also performs the popular Concerts on the Square in the summer.

WCO Sewel Bracey B-9

Drawing on his own experiences as a youth orchestra member, Andrew Sewell strives to create unique musical experiences for children through partnerships with professional and youth performing arts groups.

Since his arrival in Madison in 2000, Sewell — who lives in Madison with his wife Mary and three children, who have also participated in WYSO, and who guest conducts around the world — has devoted himself to enhancing WCO’s education programs by providing depth and repeated exposure to youth.

Programs such as The Youth Concerts and “Get Close to the Music” immerse students into musical concepts through repeated classroom visits by trained musicians prior to attending a performance. The Side-By-Side Concerts and Youth Concerto Competition give students the opportunity to compete and perform at a professional level.


Described as a “Renaissance Mentor,” Andrew Sewell has sought to inspire anyone with an interest in the arts to whole-heartedly pursue artistic achievement and personal growth in their endeavors.  While Sewell is constantly promoting youth arts education publicly, he also routinely works with choirs, orchestras, bands, small ensembles and soloists regularly.

His sincere enthusiasm and support is readily recognized by children and the community. It is arts educators and supporters like Andrew Sewell (below in a photo by Diane Seldick) whose devotion greatly benefits and leaves a lasting impression on local communities and individuals.

Andrew Sewell very casual Diane Seldick

The John and Carolyn Peterson Charitable Foundation, Inc., established by John and Carolyn Peterson, supports a variety of arts programs throughout the state of Wisconsin. The Peterson Foundation’s philanthropic support of local youth arts programs, such as Madison Opera’s Student Matinee and Opera in the Park, helps organizations provide unique exposure to the arts both onstage and off. (Below is John Peterson, second from left, sitting on the Mills hall stage  with some UW-Madison music students in 2012, shortly before he died.) 

john peterson with UW students in 2012

Through their support Wisconsin Public Television has been able to broadcast The Final Forte with the Madison Symphony Orchestra and Concerts on the Square to a large audience base annually.  Arts organizations, such as the Madison Jazz Society, are able to incorporate world-class performers into their concert series for community members to enjoy.

The John and Carolyn Peterson Charitable Foundation’s – its logos is below — philanthropic efforts also include those of preservation and logistics for programming. Through this thoughtful support foundations such as the Heritage Military Music Foundation (HHMF) can maintain antique instruments, music and uniforms to accomplish their mission of presenting living history to the residents of Wisconsin.

The breadth and extent of The John and Carolyn Peterson Charitable Foundation’s philanthropy connects with communities through youth education, local concert series, and the preservation of Wisconsin’s history. (Below is the Foundation’s logo.)

john and carolyn peterson

The Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras, located in Madison, Wisconsin, presents the Rabin Youth Arts Awards in honor of their 96-year-old founding conductor, Dr. Marvin Rabin (below, at an awards dinner), as a means to honor those who follow in his footsteps.  The awards are a forum for promoting quality youth arts programs and honoring those who work diligently to provide arts opportunities for children throughout Wisconsin.  They also serve as a means to elevate awareness in our community about the importance of arts education for all children. 

Rabin portrait

Now celebrating its 47th season, WYSO membership has included more than 5,000 young musicians (below are a few) from more than 100 communities in southern Wisconsin.  WYSO, currently under the artistic direction of James Smith, includes three full orchestras, a string orchestra, a chamber music program, a percussion ensemble, a harp ensemble and a brass choir program.

For more information, visit


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