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 2018.
Music Director and Conductor
Nobuyoshi Yasuda, affectionately known as ‘Nobu’, is the driving force behind and in front of all Chippewa Valley Symphony performances. Nobu has the energy to carry musicians through long rehearsals and inspire them in times of weakness.
Nobu selects the season’s repertoire with the help of the Artistic Advisory committee. His selections challenge the orchestra while showcasing their strengths. Through Nobu, the orchestra has grown to new levels of achievement.
A native of Takarazuka, Japan, Nobu’s violin studies began at the age of three. He holds degrees in violin performance from Soai University in Japan (BM), and Indiana University (MM), and has been active as a violin soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States and Japan. Nobu’s interest in conducting was sparked by his desire to find new ways to share his passion for music.
After his graduate studies, Nobu received fellowships to study with Gunther Schuller at the Festival at Sandpoint and Murry Sidlin and Michael Tilson Thomas at the Aspen Music Festival. Nobu credits Eiji Oue, the former Music Director of the Minnesota Orchestra, as his principal conducting mentor.
Nobu was appointed as Orchestra Director and Assistant Professor of Violin at UW-Eau Claire in 1991. He became music director of the Chippewa Valley Symphony in 1993 and was Associate Conductor of the Grand Teton Music Festival in 1999 – 2003. His performance of Milhaud’s Création du monde at the festival was broadcast on National Public Radio’s Performance Today in July 2001.
Nobu has served as guest conductor for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and acting assistant conductor for the Minnesota Orchestra. In May of 2003, he made his debut as guest conductor of the NDR Philharmonic-Hannover in Germany.
In March, 2004, Nobu conducted in Indiana and Japan. Early in March, he was the guest conductor of the Osaka Philharmonic at the Osaka Festival Hall in his hometown of Osaka, Japan, where he conducted Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5, as well as several other selections in a sold out house seating 3,000.
Anna Rybicki is a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native who completed her undergraduate study at Illinois Wesleyan University with degrees in vocal performance and philosophy. She attended The University of Michigan Law School. Following graduation she served as a law clerk with the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and then entered private legal practice in Cedar Rapids. While in Iowa she served on the boards of directors of Legion Arts and the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre.
After relocating to Eau Claire, Ms. Rybicki became a founding board member and the community relations coordinator for Initiative for New Directions in Education (INDE). She is also a member of the grant writing and planning team for Anthony Acres School.
Ms. Rybicki is an active solo performer and member of choral ensembles Schola Cantorum and Oxbridge Consort. She previously sang with IWU’s Collegiate Choir, University of Michigan’s Outreach in the Performing Arts, Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, Theatre Cedar Rapids, Just Brewed Jazz, The Master Singers, Chippewa Skiffle Orchestra, and Eauxpera.
Board of Directors
Walker J.J. Stutzman, President
Bill Prindle, Treasurer
Liz Wilson, Secretary