Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
Press Release

Edo de Waart Conducts Strauss With Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

Performances feature MSO principals Katherine Young Steele, Susan Babini, Robert Levine

By - Feb 4th, 2015 09:40 am

MILWAUKEE, WIS. 02/04/2015 – The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Edo de Waart present de Waart Conducts Strauss on February 27-28, 2015 at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. The performances feature Strauss’s Metamorphosen for 23 Solo Strings, Oboe Concerto in D major, and Don Quixote, Op. 35. Featured soloists include the MSO’s Principal Oboe Katherine Young Steele, Principal Cello Susan Babini, and Principal Viola Robert Levine.

Both concerts include Meet the Music, a free, interactive pre-concert discussion held one hour prior to concert start time, in Uihlein Hall at 10:15 a.m. on Friday and in Anello Atrium at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday.

Strauss’s Metamorphosen for 23 Solo Strings was composed in 1945 while World War II was winding down, having devastated the European continent. Strauss and his wife sought refuge in Switzerland. Following the destruction of the Opera House in his birth city of Munich, Strauss sketched a musical fragment which he entitled “Mourning for Munich.” When Paul Sacher, the enterprising Swiss conductor, approached Strauss about writing a piece for his Zürich Collegium Musicum, Strauss borrowed this theme and used it as the basis for his Metamorphosen.

Strauss’s Oboe Concerto in D major was composed in 1945. With many of the major German opera houses left in shambles during World War II, Strauss shifted his focus to writing concertos for horn and oboe. The work is scored in three through-composed movements, and with the exception of an orchestral tutti in the middle of the movement, the oboe plays almost nonstop.

Strauss’s Don Quixote, Op. 35 was composed from 1896-1897, a decade during which Strauss wrote several tone poems. Inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’s seventeenth century novel, the story centers around the character Don Quixote of La Mancha. While Don Quixote is a tone poem in the sense that it derives from a specific literary source, it functions more like a cello concerto. Strauss’s musical treatment of the story takes the form of an introduction, theme, and ensuing set of ten variations.


Edo de Waart enters his sixth season as the sixth music director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in 2014.15. He also serves as chief conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic and conductor laureate of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. Regular guest conducting appearances include the Chicago Symphony, NHK Symphony, and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic orchestras as well as the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra where, as with the San Francisco Symphony and Hong Kong Philharmonic, he has previously held a post. At the end of the 2013.14 season, he returned to the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

As an opera conductor, de Waart has enjoyed success in a large and varied repertoire in many of the world’s greatest opera houses. He has conducted at Bayreuth, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Grand Théâtre de Genève, Opera de Bastille, Santa Fe Opera, and The Metropolitan Opera. His most recent appearance at The Met received rave reviews for Der Rosenkavalier, and he will return to the house in future seasons. In addition to semi-staged and concert opera performances with his orchestras in the United States, he regularly conducts opera with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra as part of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw’s Zaterdag Matinee series, most recently Richard Strauss’s Salome.

Edo de Waart’s extensive catalogue encompasses releases for Philips, Virgin, EMI, Telarc, and RCA. His most recent recording is with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic; Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 was released in April 2013. Future releases include Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde: Nachtgesang und Isoldes Liebestod (arr. Henk de Vlieger) with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic.

At the age of 23, de Waart won the Dimitri Mitropoulos Conducting Competition in New York which resulted in his appointment as assistant conductor to Leonard Bernstein at the New York Philharmonic. On his return to Holland, he was appointed assistant conductor to Bernard Haitink at the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. In 1967, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra appointed him guest conductor and, six years later, chief conductor and artistic director. Since then, he has also been music director of the San Francisco Symphony and Minnesota Orchestra, chief conductor and artistic director of the Sydney Symphony, and chief conductor of De Nederlandse Opera.

Katherine Young Steele is the principal oboe of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, where she holds the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra League Oboe Chair. Previously, she served as principal oboe of The Florida Orchestra in Tampa Bay, a position she held for five seasons. With The Florida Orchestra, Katherine was featured as a soloist in Bohuslav Martinu’s Concerto for Oboe and participated in a cultural exchange in Havana, Cuba. Since 2008, Katherine has served as co-principal oboe of the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina. She has also served as guest principal oboe in the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the San Diego Symphony, and the Sarasota Orchestra. From 2003 to 2007, she was a member of the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Florida, and toured with the orchestra. She has performed in the music festivals of Tanglewood, Spoleto USA, Banff, Music in the Mountains in Durango, Colorado, and with the National Repertory Orchestra. Katherine maintains an active teaching studio and has served on the faculties of the Eastern Music Festival, the University of Tampa, St. Petersburg College, and Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. A native of Lancaster, Ohio, Steele holds a Bachelor of Music degree and the prestigious Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music, and a Master of Music degree from Rice University’s Shepherd School. Her primary teachers include Richard Killmer, Robert Atherholt, and Donna Conaty.

Cellist Susan Babini, recognized for her “gorgeous sound,” “liquid sense of phrasing,” and “arresting performances,” (The Philadelphia Enquirer) holds the Dorothea C. Mayer Cello Chair of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and is also principal cellist of the New Century Chamber Orchestra, a San Francisco-based conductorless ensemble led by music director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. As a soloist, Susan Babini has appeared with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, New Century Chamber Orchestra, Princeton Symphony, and gave the East Coast premiere of Aaron Jay Kernis’s Colored Field for Cello and Orchestra with Symphony in C. She has also been presented in solo recital by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and has toured the Unite States. on the prestigious

“Musicians from Marlboro” series. In addition, she has performed as guest principal cellist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. She currently teaches at Northwestern University.

Robert Levine currently holds the Richard O. and Judith A. Wagner Family Principal Viola Chair and has been the principal violist of the Milwaukee Symphony since 1987. He has also been a member of the Orford Quartet in residence at the University of Toronto and principal violist of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Oklahoma City Symphony, and the London (Ontario) Symphony. In addition, he has served as guest principal violist with the Indianapolis Symphony, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Robert is an active chamber musician, having performed with such musicians as Mischa Dicter, Yo-Yo Ma, Schlomo Mintz, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Pinchas Zukerman. He is chairman emeritus of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, president of the Milwaukee Musicians Association, Local 8 AFM, and a member of the board of directors of the League of American Orchestras. He has also written extensively about issues concerning orchestra musicians for publications of the American Federation of Musicians, the League of American Orchestras, the Symphony Orchestra Institute, the Association for Union Democracy, and the Institute for Music Leadership at the Eastman School of Music, as well as for his own blogs. Robert attended Stanford University, the University of Reading (UK), and the Institute for Advanced Musical Studies in Switzerland.

De Waart Conducts Strauss
Edo de Waart, conductor
Katherine Young Steele, oboe  |  Susan Babini, cello  |  Robert Levine, viola
Uihlein Hall, Marcus Center for the Performing Arts

Friday, February 27 | 11:15 a.m.
Meet the Music, Uihlein Hall | 10:15 a.m.

Saturday, February 28 | 8:00 p.m.
Meet the Music, Anello Atrium | 7:00 p.m.

Tickets range from $25-105. For more information, please call 414.291.7605 or visit Tickets may also be purchased through the Marcus Center Box Office at 414.273.7206.


The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, under the dynamic leadership of Music Director Edo de Waart, is among the finest orchestras in the nation and the largest cultural institution in Wisconsin. Now in his sixth season with the MSO, Maestro de Waart has led sold-out concerts, elicited critical acclaim, and conducted a celebrated performance at Carnegie Hall on May 11, 2012. The MSO’s full-time professional musicians perform over 135 classics, pops, family, education, and community concerts each season in venues throughout the state. Since its inception in 1959, the MSO has found innovative ways to give music a home in the region, develop music appreciation and talent among area youth, and raise the national reputation of Milwaukee.

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