Renowned Cellist Featured in Two Concerts at NSU

Wesley Baldwin

ABERDEEN, S.D. – The Aberdeen University-Civic Symphony, conducted by Dr. Robert Vodnoy, will perform the opening concert of its 98th season at 7:30 p.m.  Saturday, Nov. 4, in the Harvey and Cynthia Jewett Theater in the Johnson Fine Arts Center at Northern State University.

Award-winning cellist Dr. Wesley Baldwin will be the featured artist on the all-Czech program, performing Dvořák’s “Cello Concerto in B Minor.” Other works on the program will be Bedřich Smetana’s popular tone poem “The Moldau” and Leoš Janáček’s “Suite for Strings.”

“Dvořák’s cello concerto has one of the richest orchestral accompaniments of any Romantic concerto, and is a real showcase for our orchestra,” said Vodnoy, orchestra director and NSU professor of strings. “I am looking forward to renewing our musical partnership with Dr. Baldwin, and giving our audience the opportunity to hear this great cellist in our beautifully renovated hall.”

Vodnoy said this program of music by three great Czech composers will be a thrilling musical event.

“Smetana is the fountain-head of Czech classical music, and ‘The Moldau’ is one of the great romantic tone poems for orchestra,” he said. “Dvořák and Janáček were both inspired by Smetana, and the three are considered the most important Czech composers.”

There will be a pre-concert conversation with Baldwin and Vodnoy in the Berggren Recital Hall at 6:30 p.m. and a post-concert reception for the entire audience to meet the artist.

Tickets for the concert are $18 for adults. All students are admitted free. The concert is sponsored by Dacotah Bank.

Chamber Music Recital

In addition to performing with the orchestra on Nov. 4, Baldwin will present a chamber music recital at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2, in Krikac Auditorium with Dr. Audrey Miller (clarinet), Dr. Kenneth Boulton (piano), and Vodnoy (violin). The recital is free to the public, and will include music by Haydn, Clara Schumann and Beethoven.

Baldwin is the professor of cello at the University of Tennessee. He has recorded for Albany Records, Naxos, Zyode and Innova labels. His string quartet was top prize-winner at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, and he has received the Prix Mercure, Homer Ulrich Awards and a Tennessee Arts Commission Individual Performing Artist Fellowship.

Baldwin was principal cellist of the New World Symphony, and has performed chamber music at the Aspen, Cazenovia, Hot Springs, Ojai, Sandpoint and Mainly Mozart Music Festivals, and internationally in Italy, France, Monte Carlo, Spain, Austria, Brazil, Argentina, the United Kingdom and Costa Rica. He holds the Leonard Rose Memorial chair as principal cellist of the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra.

Vodnoy said AUCS is delighted to be welcoming Baldwin back to Aberdeen.

“He performed Lalo’s ‘Cello Concerto in d Minor’ with the orchestra in April 2013 to great acclaim. We are thrilled to be performing Dvořák’s great cello concerto with him this year,” Vodnoy said. “Fanfare Magazine summed up Wesley’s playing as ’phenomenal,’ and I heartily agree. I’ve heard Wesley perform at the Michigan City Chamber Music Festival many times. He has a sumptuous tone, pitch-perfect intonation and extraordinary musicianship.”

Dvořák was Successful Composer

Dvořák was identified early in his career as a major talent by Johannes Brahms and became a highly successful composer in Europe. He became important to American music when he came to the United States to teach at the National Conservatory of Music in New York City from 1892-1895. His Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”) and this concerto were among the works he wrote during his stay.

While in NYC, he heard Victor Herbert, principal cellist of the New York Philharmonic, perform his own cello concerto with the orchestra. It was a revelation to Dvořák, and the result was this magnificent concerto, a perfect blend of musical innovation with Bohemian nostalgia, according to Vodnoy.

“Dvořák copied Herbert’s orchestration in a passage in his concerto, using a trombone trio to accompany the cello! Dvořák remarked on the beauty of this orchestration and acknowledged his debt to Herbert.”

The Nov. 4 concert will include two other works by Bohemian composers. Bedřich Smetana’s “The Moldau” will open the program. One of the most popular tone poems of the 19th century, Smetana’s work traces the progress of the Moldau River (Vlatava in Czech) from its inception as two small streams to the mighty river as it flows toward Prague. The music portrays the river as it flows past a hunting party, a Bohemian wedding, as it shimmers in the moonlight, and as it crashes through the Saint John Rapids. At the end, the grand theme of ancient Vyšehrad, the promontory on which lies the legendary seat of Czech princes, is played by the brass section.

CHS Orchestra to Perform

Also on the program will be 20th century Czech composer Leoš Janáček’s “Suite for Strings,” a masterpiece which Janáček composed when he was only 27 years old. For this work, the Central High School Senior Orchestra will join the strings of the Aberdeen University-Civic Symphony to form a 60-member string orchestra.

“We will play this charming suite in a “side-by-side” performance, which means that a member of the CHS orchestra and a member of the AUCS string section will sit together on each stand,” Vodnoy said. “This is a wonderful way to collaborate. I was very impressed with the students when I went to CHS to rehearse with them in preparation for this concert. Several members of the orchestra, including graduate assistant Xin Wang, joined me for these rehearsals. Joe Berns, director of the CHS orchestra program and a member of the string section of the AUCS, has been a great partner in this project. We are lucky to have him in the community.”

The Nov. 2 recital will give Aberdeen audiences another opportunity to enjoy Baldwin’s musical artistry. The program will include Joseph Haydn’s “Duo for Violin and Cello in D Major,” performed by Baldwin and Vodnoy. Baldwin and Vodnoy will be joined by Grammy-nominated pianist and Dean of the School of Fine Arts Dr. Kenneth Boulton to play the first movement of Clara Schumann’s “Trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano in G Minor.”

“This is a neglected masterpiece,” Vodnoy said. “Clara Schumann was a consummate artist—one of the greatest pianists of the 19th century—but also a talented composer.”

The program will conclude with Beethoven’s “Trio for Clarinet, Cello, and Piano in B-Flat Major.” For this spritely work, Baldwin and Boulton will be joined by Dr. Audrey Miller, assistant professor of clarinet at NSU.

Past Conductors to be Honored

“As a part of the festivities for this opening concert, a plaque honoring the past conductors of the orchestra will be permanently mounted on one of the lobby walls at the post-concert reception,” Vodnoy said. “I am proud to be the 17th conductor of this wonderful orchestra, which became a college-community orchestra in 1920 under the leadership of Howard Goodsell.”

It was under Goodsell’s leadership that the first reference to the orchestra as a college-community orchestra appeared in the American Daily News in 1920. The Feb. 18, 1920, article listed 29 members of the orchestra and a story dated March 3, 1920, reported that a business meeting was held in the Central Building at Normal.

“The plaque was created by the Friends of the Aberdeen University-Civic Symphony to commemorate Goodsell’s work, and all of the other conductors who built this orchestra,” Vodnoy said. “We are thrilled that members of the Goodsell family will be coming to Aberdeen for this concert and commemoration, and grateful for their donation, which funded the creation of the plaque.”

Ticket Information

Tickets for the Nov. 4 concert are $18 for adults, and all students are admitted free. The Nov. 2 concert is free and open to the public. Tickets are available at the JFAC box office, which is open from noon to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and two hours before concert time. Call the box office at 605-626-2900 or email for ticket information, or visit the NSU School of Fine Arts webpage (

For general concert information, call the School of Fine Arts Office at 605-606-2497, email, or go to the AUCS webpage. The orchestra receives a grant from the South Dakota Arts Council. The 2017-18 season is sponsored by the American News.

Aberdeen University-Civic Symphony Personnel


Beth Neitzert#                        Aberdeen

Iiris Säkkinen              Riihimäki, Finland

Noelle Stubbe            Aberdeen

Gregg Magera             Aberdeen

Xin Wang                    Aberdeen

Leandro Fernandez Moutin Rosario, Argentina

Esther Meador                       Mitchell

Corby Shelsta             Watertown

Pat Pickard                  Sioux Falls

Elizabeth Gustafson   Sioux Falls                              

Violin II

Sara Kjetland#                        Watertown

Timothy Woods                     Aberdeen

Natalie Lobacz                        Aberdeen

Hanna Rovang                        Aberdeen

Nancy Ohnstad                       Aberdeen

Christa Lieben            Aberdeen

Gregory Lyon              Seattle, Wash.

Mary Wipf                  Fulton


Isaac Seaton#             Aberdeen

Abe Wieland              Aberdeen

Xin Wang                    Aberdeen

Liz Soladay                  Fulton

Kris Buskohl                Sioux Falls

Christopher Stanichar            Sioux Falls


Stuart Davidson#       Crocker

Ricky Faflak                 Aberdeen

Joseph Berns              Aberdeen

Sara Jones                   Aberdeen

Grant Duvall               Huron

Marian Casey             Sioux Falls


Tanner Chilson#         Watertown

Lucas Fredrick             Aberdeen

Christian Scarlett       Aberdeen

John Casey                  Sioux Falls

Flute and Piccolo

Charity Ost#               Ashley, N.D.

Jennem Woolever      Grand Forks, N.D.


Jamie Stadel#                      Aberdeen

Debra Kogel                       Huron


Molly Royals#             Rapid City

Sarah Suko                  Aberdeen


Leah Walker#             Sioux Falls

Chris Haak                 Sioux Falls


Ginny Lewis#              Aberdeen

Elsa Swanson              Chaska, Minn.

McKinley Hoselton     Richardson, N.D.

Gretchen Sharp          Bath


Colton Schaefer#        Wilmot

Patrick Calvillo             Rapid City

Dylan Rausch              Yankton


Brady Vandevort#      Rapid City

Scott Glodt                 Hoven

Chris Allen                  Rapid City


Travis Netzer#            Aberdeen

Timpani and Percussion

Roger Frank                Aberdeen

Kori Kerwin                 Chamberlain

Nyssa Duffield            Browns Valley, Minn.

Tabitha Schmidt         Huron