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Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra




About Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra

The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, led by Maestro Andrew Sewell, is a vibrant and thriving professional orchestra dedicated to connecting its audiences to the power of music. The WCO performs approximately 25 concerts per year, including Concerts on the Square®, Masterworks, Holiday Pops, Handel's Messiah, Youth Concerts, and other performances across the state. With a core orchestra of 34 musicians, an established $10 million endowment, and a permanent home in Overture Center for the Arts magnificent Capitol Theater, WCO is one of the finest chamber orchestras in the country.

About the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra

Under the leadership of Maestro Andrew Sewell, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra is a vibrant and thriving arts institution with a solid blueprint for becoming a leading chamber orchestra of national acclaim.

As a well-loved statewide arts institution that is tightly woven into the fabric of its communities, the WCO brings high-caliber music to the public through a wide variety of performances and programs. During the summer, more than 120,000 people will gather for WCO's Concerts on the Square®, a series of six free concerts held on the beautiful grounds of Wisconsin's State Capitol in downtown Madison. The WCO also brings its music to Paquette Park in Portage for their annual Concert in the Park.

Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra performs its indoor series in the Overture Center for the Arts magnificent Capitol Theater. Called Overture Center's ‘jewel box', the Capitol Theater is an aesthetically and acoustically wonderful space for music. At approximately 1,000 seats, it is ideally sized for the warmth and intimacy that characterize the experience of watching and listening to a chamber orchestra. The orchestra presents its Masterworks series beginning in October and running through April. Internationally acclaimed guest artists from around the globe join the orchestra for unforgettable performances that have earned exceptionally high praise.

Additionally, the WCO celebrates the holidays by presenting Middleton Holiday Pops at the Madison Marriott West. The WCO kicks off the holidays in style over the Thanksgiving weekend with a program of traditional and secular holiday music, including the ever popular encore, Sleigh Ride. Blackhawk Church in Middleton serves as the backdrop for Handel's Messiah, joined by stunning soloists and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra Chorus.

Education has been an integral part of the mission of The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. Every year the orchestra has introduced over 3000 southern Wisconsin schoolchildren to classical music through our Youth Concerts. To enhance the school music curriculum we partner with school teachers and provide educational school visits to all schools attending our Youth Concerts. The visits support what the school music teachers teach and along with staff from the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra we educate students on what they will experience at the Youth Concerts.

The Young Artist Competition provides Wisconsin high school music students the opportunity to perform with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra at our Youth Concerts and also at one of our summer Concerts on the Square®. Throughout the season we partner with local southern Wisconsin High schools and have World Class artists performing with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra meet and work with high school age students. At our Concerts on the Square®, we feature local Dane County Arts groups and artists to provide wonderful arts activities for children in the summer months.

The vision of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra is to enable people of all ages in Southern Wisconsin to learn, create and become inspired through orchestral music.

The Mission of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra

The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra's mission is to provide programs of the highest artistic quality for its audiences. WCO performances should entertain, inform and enrich the quality of life in diverse local and regional audiences.



Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra was founded in 1960 by Gordon B. Wright as the Madison Summer Symphony Orchestra. After an initial summer concert series at the Eastside Businessmen's Association, the Orchestra established a summer series at Madison's Edgewood College, where it remained for 10 years. The repertoire performed by this summer orchestra consisted of great orchestral music from all ages, including composer residencies or revivals of lesser-known works by composers from other eras. Generally, the orchestra performed a four-concert series on Sunday evenings in July.

In 1969, Gordon Wright was engaged by the University of Alaska, and David Crosby, then an apprentice of Maestro Otto-Werner Mueller, was engaged as music director and conductor. During these initial years, the Madison Summer Symphony played occasionally outside of Madison. In 1974, it began to play during other seasons of the year and changed its name to Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, to reflect the expanding geographic range of its performances. In 1980, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra established a full subscription season of indoor concerts featuring guest artists and ensembles. Its size grew from 20 to 30 musicians.

In the winter of 1983, local businesswoman Pleasant Rowland saw an opportunity to increase accessibility to the arts and to create a sense of community, while utilizing the beautiful Capitol lawn as a gathering place. After receiving start-up funds from The Evjue Foundation and The Norman Bassett Foundation, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra launched its first season of Concerts on the Square in the summer of 1984. Known alternately as "The Biggest Picnic of Summer," the Concerts on the Square® series annually draws 120,000 people to the State Capitol Concourse for a summer of "donation-supported" music, picnicking and community gathering.

Andrew Sewell joined the orchestra in the spring of 2000 as music director, bringing an innovative, exciting vision to both the indoor and outdoor series concerts, which continue to grow and flourish under his baton to this day.


Close to the Music - 2004

Momentum - 2005

Mozart: The Early Concerti - 2008


Upcoming Events


Middleton Holiday Pops

Guest Artists: American Idol Finalist, AJ Gil, soloist; Middleton High School Concert Choir

Saturday, November 26, 2011, 8:00 pm | Sunday, November 27, 2011, 1:00 pm

Madison Marriott West


Handel's Messiah

Featuring the Festival Choir of Madison and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra Chorus

Friday, December 9, 2011

7:00 pm | Blackhawk Church, Middleton


Masterworks II - Triumphant Return

Guest Artist Amit Peled, Cellist

Friday, January 13, 2012

8:00 pm | Capitol Theater | Overture Center for the Arts


Masterworks III - Beloved Beethoven

Guest Artist Alexander Sitkovetsky, violinist

Friday, February 24, 2012

8:00 pm | Capitol Theater | Overture Center for the Arts


Masterworks IV - Celtic Celebration

Guest Artist Christopher Taylor, pianist

Friday, March 16, 2012

8:00 pm | Capitol Theater | Overture Center for the Arts


Masterworks V - Rebirth

Guest Artists Michelle Areyzaga, soprano; Jamie Van Eyck, mezzo-soprano; Robert Bracey, tenor; Timothy Jones, bass; the Festival Choir of Madison

Friday, April 13, 2012

8:00 pm | Capitol Theater | Overture Center for the Arts


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