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Meet the Motor City Symphony, An Outstanding Community Orchestra

By S. Mathur

The Warren Symphony, recently renamed the Motor City Symphony Orchestra (MCSO), is a traditional full orchestra with a strong connection to the community. It regularly performs at a number of venues to make the music accessible as widely as possible. Executive Director Jessica Trepton says that "The MCSO performs at venues throughout the Metro Detroit area including the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts in Clinton Twp, Andiamo Celebrity Showroom in Warren, Warren Woods Community Auditorium in Warren, local high school auditoriums, and churches."

MCSO is a traditional orchestra, with strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. The repertoire includes traditional orchestral classics, jazz, and popular music like Frank Sinatra favorites, along with contemporary and premiere compositions. In 2014, the orchestra chose its new name to reflect the fact that it has become a regional cultural center, rather than just a local one. The commitment to the community and to musical education remain unchanged.

The Warren Symphony Society began in 1973 and has been a leading community orchestra in the area since that time. While the name has changed, the orchestra's mission remains "to support and advance an orchestra of professional quality for cultural enrichment, entertainment and youth education." The MCSO's role as a community orchestra means that performances have included international artists as well as local talent. The commitment to the community is manifested through two annual youth concerts and the Classicalpalooza program, which reach thousands of school children each year.

Among international artists who have performed with the orchestra are Ani and Ida Kavafian, dance companies such as Eisenhower Dance Ensemble and the Kyiv Ballet, and popular attractions such as P.D.Q. Bach, Corky Siegel, and Robert Goulet. The 43rd season in 2015-16 closed in April with All that Jazz featuring Canadian pianist Anastasia Rizikov. A Frank Sinatra Christmas with the Detroit Red Wings' Karen Newman celebrated the holiday season, bringing old favorites to life. The MCSO is also active in fundraising for various causes and participated in the 2015 Global #GivingTuesday initiative, which raises funds for nonprofits.

Special events have included tributes to local heroes like State Senator Steve Bieda, Macomb County Attorney and President of the Warren City Council, Cecil St. Pierre, Jr. and Francis Scripter, who was an iconic figure in the community, supporting education and the arts.

MCSO is a professional orchestra and seats are highly sought after. Trepton explains that "The majority of our musicians have advanced degrees in music, performance, and/or theory. When a seat becomes available auditions are held." The MCSO's efforts are appreciated in the community, and in 2014 it was named Outstanding Community Orchestra for the fourth time at the Detroit Music Awards.

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