about us...


The Red Cedar Symphony was founded in the fall of 1983 for the purpose of presenting symphonic music experiences to the Rice Lake community. In its first season, the orchestra presented two public concerts under the direction of Sister Shirley Wagner. In 1984 the orchestra engaged the services of Warren Friesen as director and conductor. Under his direction the orchestra grew numerically, artistically, and financially. It was during Friesen's tenure that the orchestra legally incorporated as a non-profit organization. Mr. Friesen is currently on staff at Gustavus-Aldolphus College as orchestra director. Successive conductors include Andrew Johnson, Jon Poupore, Dr. David Scott, Edward G. Thompson Thomas Howell, Josh Aerie, and Kevin Peters. Guest conductors include Kevin McMullin, Anastasia Traicoff.

During its first three years, the orchestra was graciously supported by the UW-Superior Chamber Orchestra, which helped the RCSO "get on its feet" by joining it for dress rehearsals and concerts. Subsequent to that, the orchestra has been able to recruit and retain local string musicians to fill sections, no longer needing help from UW-S musicians. The orchestra roster currently includes twenty or more area string players. These, together with the requisite wind and percussion players, make an impressive roster of about forty-five musicians. Musicians have come from La Crosse, Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls, Prairie Farm, Rice Lake, Cumberland, Shell Lake, Spooner, Hayward, Ladysmith, Cable, Danbury, and points in between. UW-Barron County hosts the orchestra for rehearsals and performance space. The Red Cedar Chorus (formerly Community Choir) has joined with the orchestra for a combined program several times. The orchestra's concerts have included programs outside of Rice Lake in Spooner, Cumberland, Shell Lake, Siren, Ladysmith, Hayward and Chippewa Falls. The orchestra has twice featured Ronald McDonald at its children's concerts and was honored to be a part of the world premiere of One Nation, with Pipestone. This work for Symphony Orchestra, Native American Drum Group, and student string players was composed by Kevin McMullin, A concerto competition is held in the spring on even-numbered years, to promote talented local musicians and to give them the opportunity to perform as soloists with the orchestra. The Music Director, Executive Director and Personnel/Music Manager are the only paid part-time positions.