SEI Symphony presents powerful winter concerts with huge regional chorus

Written by Theresa Rose on February 6, 2017

Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra will blow out all the stops on its 66th season with 3 unforgettable performances of Gloria from Puccini’s powerful mass and Felix Mendelssohn’s earnest prayer for peace Verleih’ uns Frieden for orchestra and chorus.  Also, SEISO’s Young Artist Competition winner, Samuel Schulte will perform with the orchestra.  Concerts will be held 7:30 PM Saturday, February 11, 2017 in Bridge View Center, Ottumwa; 3:00 PM Sunday, February 12 in Burlington’s Capitol Theater and 7:30 PM Sunday, February 12 at Iowa Wesleyan University’s Chapel Auditorium in Mt. Pleasant.

Under the direction of Robert McConnell, SEISO is proud to present Puccini’s and Mendelssohn’s masterpieces with the orchestra, 1 professional soloist and a massive chorus of over 100 voices.  The chorus is made up of vocalists from Burlington’s Bel Canto Chorale (directed by Jacob Yochum), Ottumwa Area Community Chorus (under the direction of Dr. Christine Bergen); Mt. Pleasant Community Chorale and Iowa Wesleyan University Choir (both under the direction of Blair Buffington).

Dennis Willhoit will serve as soloist for “Gloria” and is a versatile lyric tenor and voice teacher. He has sung with the symphony orchestras of St. Louis, Des Moines, Rockford, Janesville-Beloit, Central Wisconsin, Appleton Fox Valley, Southeast Iowa, Truman State, Central Iowa and the University of Iowa.  He has served as the principal tenor for the St. Louis Symphony Chorus, appearing twice as soloist at Carnegie Hall with the group.

Samuel Schulte, SEISO Young Artist for 2017, was born and raised in Burlington, Iowa, and currently attends Burlington Community High School as a sophomore. Ever since he was young, Samuel has been passionate about learning new things in all areas of study offered at his schools, particularly math. When he was 10, his sister Rachel’s violin paying inspired him to join his school’s orchestra, and he began taking lessons from Diana Wells the summer before his fifth grade year. One year later, he discovered he had a predilection for studying music and began to take lessons from Carolyn Suda at Monmouth College, Illinois. Since then, Samuel has had the privilege to explore many opportunities such as participating in the All State Orchestra his freshman and sophomore years and attending Green Lake Summer Chamber Music Camp. It is his hope that he will extend his wonderful privilege into college, where he will be able to luxuriate in the art of music-making and share his passion with the world.

Iowa Wesleyan University’s director of choral activities, Professor Blair Buffington will serve as guest conductor for the piece by Felix Mendelssohn.




SEISO greatly appreciates the Ottumwa Courier and South Ottumwa Savings Bank for serving as concert sponsors for the 2017 Winter Concert Series.

Admission to the winter concerts is by SEISO season ticket or single admission – purchased at the door.  Adult admission is $15, and student admission (age 12 and older) is $10.  Children under 12 years of age are admitted free of charge.   There will be no reserved seating.

Make the most of your concert experience by learning more about the music ahead of time.  Pre-concert talks with Robert McConnell are scheduled 45 minutes before each performance and are supported through a grant from the Charles W. Rand Memorial Lecture Fund in Burlington.

Complete guest artist biographies and program notes, written by Dr. Jason Edwards are available on the SEISO web site: