The Sinfonia Journey — from 1970s Portsmouth, England to today’s Fox Valley, Wisconsin
It was a novel idea at the Portsmouth (England) School of Art in 1970: create an orchestra of people with little or no experience on the instrument they would play. What started as a one-off, tongue-in-cheek performance ensemble became a cultural phenomenon during the next ten years.
By 1974, the Portsmouth Sinfonia played a sold-out concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Its combination of music and comedy led to international fame, concert tours, and even being featured on surreal comedy group Monty Python’s CD Dead Parrot Society.
Years later, ca. 2014, Jason Henderson of Appleton, Wisconsin heard about the Portsmouth Sinfonia, was intrigued by the idea, and mentioned it to friend, fellow musician, and Fox Valley Symphony board member Mike Kubicki. The two began to think “What if . . . ?” They described it to fellow board member Renee Boldt, who was further intrigued by the idea and knew that the board was looking for creative ways to expand interest in the Symphony and symphonic music, and to raise funds to put the organization on strong financial footing as it planned for its next 50 years.
And just like that, Henderson and Kubicki became co-chairs of the newly conceived Fox Valley Sinfonia. With support from Mary Harp-Jirschele, Karen Laws, Cindi Ritcey-Fox, Katie Phalin, Heidi Zich and Megan Schlimm, the inaugural concert took place on March 21, 2015!
March 10, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.
Perry Hall, UW – Fox Valley
Sinfonia Goes to the Movies
Craig Kellenberger, Conductor
Featuring repertoire from Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter and more! Learn how you can join the fun by downloading the 2018 Sinfoniac Information Sheet or purchase your tickets to attend the concert by clicking here!
Fox Valley Sinfonias 2015, 2016, and 2017 have contributed more than $100,000 to help support the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra and its Youth Orchestra program. We thank the musicians, sponsors, committee members and audience members who have made this a success!
Fox Valley Sinfonia 2015
The premiere performance of the Fox Valley Sinfonia took place on March 21, 2015. Fifty community leaders and other brave souls picked up an instrument they had never played before, took a handful of lessons from even braver professional instructors, experienced four full-orchestra rehearsals, and appeared on stage at UW Fox’s Perry Hall for what was billed as “one hilarious night of awful music for a great cause.”
Led by Neenah High School orchestra conductor Kristi Stingle, they performed Mouret’s “Fanfare Rondeau” (better known as the Masterpiece Theater theme song), Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” excerpts from Mahler’s “Symphony No. 1,” and Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” Interspersed with skits, narration by master of ceremonies Steve March-Tormé, and brief selections by each of the instrumental groups to show off their skills (!), more real music was made that most people expected!
Fox Valley Sinfonia 2016
Conductor Kristi Stingle – knowing full well what she was in for after last year’s experience – bravely returned as Sinfonia’s conductor. She chose five (note, that’s one more than last year) works for the 64 “musicians” to perform:
Steve March-Tormé kept the conductor, the players, and the gracious audience on track as the “master” for this ceremony!
Fox Valley Sinfonia 2017
Craig Kellenberger, director of orchestras at Appleton North and West High Schools and Renaissance School for the Arts, stepped to the podium as Sinfonia conductor this year. With the theme of “Sinfonia Gets Romantic,” he chose overtures from Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville” and Tschaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet,” along with selections from Grieg’s “Peer Gynt Suite” and the finale from Offenbach’s “Orpheus” (otherwise known as the “Can, Can!”).
Emcee Steve March-Tormé again kept the evening moving, and 56 musicians (a few of whom even came back for their second or third year!) treated the audience to a night of music, comedy, and even an extra note or screech here and there!