SEI Orchestra Presents Powerful Winter Concert Series

Written by Theresa Rose on February 4, 2015

The Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Robert McConnell, will continue its 64th season with a powerful and exciting winter concert series with a guest appearance by one of the world’s finest pianists, Spencer Myer and by two of SEISO’s Young Artists: clarinetist Anne Buckwalter and violinist Ellen Willhoit. The first concert will be held Saturday, February 14, 7:30 PM in the Capitol Theater in Burlington. Two additional performances will be given Sunday, February 15, 2015 3:00 PM Bridge View Center in Ottumwa and 7:30 PM in the Chapel Auditorium at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mt. Pleasant. The SEISO Winter Concert Series is sponsored through the generosity of KYOU Fox 15 TV.

One of the most important American artists of his generation, Spencer Myer is garnering stellar audience and critical acclaim from around the globe, rapidly establishing a significant and continuously expanding career.

Spencer Myer includes in his current season returns to the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and the Southeast Iowa and Springfield (MA) symphony orchestras and debuts with Connecticut’s Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra, Montana’s Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Washington’s Whatcom Symphony Orchestra. Solo recitals and chamber music collaborations throughout the United States are highlighted by additional appearances with the internationally renowned Dorian Wind Quintet, while summer festivals include re-engagements with the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival, Kent/Blossom Music Festival and Mendocino Music Festival. Mr. Myer also makes his fourth tour throughout South Africa. He continues as half of the Daurov/Myer Duo, having teamed up with the award-winning cellist Adrian Daurov in 2012.

Spencer Myer’s orchestral, recital and chamber music performances have been heard throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa and Asia. He has been soloist with, among many others, The Cleveland Orchestra, Boise, Dayton and Louisiana philharmonic orchestras, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston, the Baton Rouge, Bozeman, Duluth Superior, Indianapolis, Juneau, Knoxville, New Haven, Phoenix, San Juan, Santa Fe, Springfield (MA, OH), Traverse, Tucson and Wyoming symphony orchestras, Indianapolis and Manhattan chamber orchestras, The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony, Mexico’s Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco, South Africa’s Cape Town and Johannesburg philharmonic orchestras and Beijing’s China National Symphony Orchestra, collaborating with, among others, conductors David Bernard, Nicholas Cleobury, Leslie B. Dunner, Robert Franz, Neal Gittleman, Bernhard Gueller, Jacques Lacombe, Jahja Ling, Dirk Meyer, Timothy Muffitt, Maurice Peress, Kyle Wiley Pickett, Arthur Post, Kevin Rhodes, Lucas Richman, Matthew Savery, Klauspeter Seibel, Steven Smith, Arjan Tien and Victor Yampolsky. His 2005 recital/orchestral tour of South Africa included a performance of the five piano concerti of Beethoven with the Chamber Orchestra of South Africa, followed by return orchestra and recital tours in 2008, 2010 and 2012.

Spencer Myer’s career was launched with three important prizes: First Prize in the 2004 UNISA International Piano Competition in South Africa; American Pianists Association’s 2006 Christel DeHaan Classical Fellowship; Gold Medal from the 2008 New Orleans International Piano Competition. He is also a laureate of the 2007 William Kapell, 2005 Cleveland and 2005 Busoni international piano competitions. He enjoys a growing reputation as a vocal collaborator since winning the 2000 Marilyn Horne Foundation Competition. Mr. Myer was a member of Astral Artists’ performance roster from 2003-2010.

Spencer Myer is a graduate of The Juilliard School, where he studied with Julian Martin. Other teachers include Peter Takács, Joseph Schwartz and Christina Dahl. He spent two summers at the Music Academy of the West, studying with Jerome Lowenthal and, later, Vocal Accompanying with Warren Jones and Marilyn Horne. During the course of his undergraduate studies at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, he was the recipient of numerous awards from that
institution, while, in 2000, he was named a recipient of a four-year Jacob K. Javits Memorial Fellowship from the United States Department of Education. His Doctor of Musical Arts degree was conferred by Stony Brook University in 2005. Spencer Myer is a Steinway Artist who will perform the Brahms “Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major” and D’Indy’s “Symphony on a French Mountain Air.”

Anne Buckwalter won first place honors in the Marilyn Minford McCoid Young Artist Competition. The daughter of Tom and Paula Buckwalter of Wellman, Iowa, she is a senior at Iowa Mennonite High School in Kalona. When asked how she first became interested in music, Anne said, “I’ve always had a passion for music and joined band and choir in middle school. Since that time, Anne has studied clarinet with Ms. Becky Curtis. In addition to practicing 7-8 hours each week, Anne enjoys studying the piano with Ms. Susan See, musicals/dramas and soccer. After high school, she plans to attend college and major in music performance or music education. Since becoming a young clarinetist, Anne has won several awards: SEIBA Honor Band (9th and 10th grades); All-State Band (11th grade); IMTA District winner and winning 2nd place in the 2013 SEISO young artist competition. Anne will perform the final movement (rondo) from Weber’s “Clarinet Quintet in B-flat Major.”

Ellen Willhoit was named second-place winner of the Marilyn Minford McCoid Young Artist Competition out of a small, but extraordinarily talented group of contestants in December 2014. She is a 17 year old Ottumwa High School senior who has been studying violin with Mrs. Gwen Ying of the Preucil School of Music in Iowa City for the past 13 years. The daughter of Dennis Willhoit and Joan Summers Willhoit, Ellen practices an average of 7 hours each week. Ellen was excited about starting an instrument, because music was a key component of her early childhood. Along with playing the violin, she enjoys studying science, reading and photography. After high school graduation, Ellen plans to major in biology and neuroscience with a minor in music. She has won many awards as a young violinist, including 2013 All-State Orchestra, Best in Center for Iowa State Solo & Ensemble contest, I ratings at Solo & Ensemble contest and Ottumwa Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Winner. Ellen will perform the “Violin Concerto in a minor” by Jean Baptiste Accolay.

Admission to the winter concert series in Burlington, Ottumwa and Mt. Pleasant is by season ticket or at the door. Adult tickets are $15 and student tickets are $10. Children under 12 years of age are admitted free of charge. There is no reserved seating.

Make the most of your concert experience by attending the ‘Prelude.’ Music Director Robert McConnell will be on hand 45 minutes before performances in Burlington, Ottumwa and Mt. Pleasant to talk about the music and the Orchestra’s young artist.
If you have questions, please contact the SEISO Office at 601 North Main, Mt. Pleasant 52641, call 319-385-6352 or send E-mail messages to