By Jacob Stockinger
Dear WYSO Members and Families:
For the past 30 years, WYSO’s Music Director James Smith (below) has served as an exemplary conductor and music educator for thousands of students who have played in the ranks of WYSO’s Youth Orchestra.
At the end of the 2016-2017 season, Mr. Smith – who also directs the conducting program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music — will bring his inspiring career with WYSO to a close.
(NOTE: Smith will conduct WYSO’s eighth annual FREE Concert in the Park this coming Wednesday night. Here is a link with details about that event:
In addition to his 30 seasons conducting WYSO’s Youth Orchestra, Mr. Smith has overseen the tremendous growth in the WYSO organization. During his tenure, the Philharmonia (below), Concert, Sinfonietta and Opus One orchestras were added to the program and outstanding leadership was chosen to lead each ensemble.
WYSO Board of Director’s President John Walker confirmed this legacy stating: “During the course of his tenure with WYSO, Mr. Smith had a positive impact on the musical education of a mind-boggling number of students, both directly through their experiences in the Youth Orchestra, and indirectly through his influence on the other WYSO orchestras.
“While numerous students have gone on to successful musical careers, a large portion of the students have become leaders in their professions and communities. Mr. Smith has instilled an innate love of music and the arts in his students, recognizing that the arts transcend language, unifying us all and lifting the human spirit.”
Upon announcing his decision to retire, Mr. Smith shared: “Please know that I will always cherish the memories of outstanding students, wonderful colleagues and a first class administration. I have enjoyed every moment with the members of the WYSO family — students, faculty, staff and members of the Board of Directors.”
It has been an honor for me and for the entire WYSO staff to work with Jim Smith on behalf of this great organization. We will forever be grateful for his musical gifts and for his passion and dedication to the WYSO organization. We will treasure this final season with Mr. Smith and celebrate his unwavering efforts to embody the WYSO mission of enriching lives by providing transformational music experiences and opportunities.
The WYSO leadership is engaged in planning a search for the next WYSO Music Director and will share details as they become available.