The mission of the Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra (CVSO) is to provide excellent symphonic experiences to audiences in the Chippewa Valley. Our goals are to: (1) increase understanding and appreciation of orchestral music to an expanding audience, (2) provide our audiences with a diversity of orchestral selections and artists, and (3) provide an opportunity for talented local musicians to perform. Our motto is “music you love by people you know.”
CVSO employs professional musicians to play its five concerts per year, almost all of whom are residents of the Chippewa Valley. CVSO also brings in guest artists from across the world to solo with the ensemble.
In 1975, a small group of musicians got together for the joy of playing standard classical repertoire. Although their access to music was extremely limited, Roy Bennett agreed to lead them. By the time of the orchestra’s incorporation in fall 1975, 22 string players were in the group, and wind players were invited to join them. Financial resources were meager; they consisted of dues paid by members and the director.
The first concert was performed in 1976 at the Mabel Tainter Memorial Theater in Menomonie, Wisconsin. In 1977 the CVSO became a member of the Association of Wisconsin Symphony Orchestras and the American Symphony Orchestra League. The CVS grew to a membership of 60-65 musicians for the 1978-79 season and remains about the same size today.
In 1978, Music Director Roy Bennett left Eau Claire and guest conductors led the group for a season. Ivar Lunde, a music professor at UW-Eau Claire, became the conductor for the next nine seasons. In 1987, Dr. Merton Johnson arrived to chair the UW-Eau Claire Music Department. He conducted the CVS orchestra from 1988 to 1993. In the fall of 1992, Nobuyoshi Yasuda came to UW-EC to teach violin and conduct the UW-EC Symphony Orchestra. He has been our music director since 1993.
The State Regional Arts Center was the home office and the location of most concerts from 1988 until its closing in 2018. CVSO then moved into new offices at 402 Graham Avenue in downtown Eau Claire.
CVSO now performs at Pablo Center at the Confluence, a new civic center in downtown Eau Claire. The move to a bigger venue and larger stage has allowed CVSO exciting new opportunities such as the formation of the Chippewa Valley Festival Choir, which made its premiere with CVSO May 2019.