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Ottumwa Symphony Orchestra to Present March 9 Concert Featuring Historic “Woolworth Violin”


The Ottumwa Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming concert, Old World–New World, will be held Saturday evening, March 9th, at 7:30 pm at Bridge View Center. Special features of the concert will be “The Butterfly Lovers Concerto” by Chen Gang and He Zhanhao, to be performed by violin soloist Yixue Snow Zhang-Probst, and the runner-up of the Young Artist Competition, Ethan Kwon, who will be performing the first movement of Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 (mark May 4 on your calendar to catch the winner!).

Other pieces programmed in the concert include “Dance of the Yao Tribe” by Liu Tieshan and Antonin Dvorak’s “Symphony #9 in e minor, op. 95” (often referred to as “From the New World”). 

The organization is offering limited edition note cards for sale before and following the concert featuring beautiful watercolor pieces as a nod to the “Butterfly Lovers Concerto”. Local artists Patty Babb and Nancy Cameron gave their time to create the theme-specific designs and all proceeds will support the Ottumwa Symphony Orchestra.

Another part of the “Old World” theme will be on display as well as in performance during the concert in the feature of an historic “Woolworth violin”, originally made in Ottumwa, Iowa and now owned by Christina Rose of Madison, Wisconsin. Playing tunes of the turn of the 20th century on one of these historic instruments during the evening symphony event will be Ottumwa Symphony Orchestra’s own Zhang-Probst, while Ms. Rose will personally be showcasing her violin earlier that day at the Iowa Heartland History Connection (IHHC) exhibit highlighting Ottumwa violin makers and the general process of violin making. IHHC’s exhibit is set to open at 10:00 am on March 9. As a tie-in, the museum will have a table in the Bridge View lobby before and after the symphony concert for attendees to enjoy.

Tickets for Old Word–New World are $25 in advance / $30 at the door and can be purchased at Bridge View Center (stop by in person to avoid online fees), or order online at Kids’ admission is free.

Violinist and conductor Yixue Snow Zhang-Probst is originally from Shanghai, China. She was a recipient of the Iowa Performance Fellowship and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in music performance and pedagogy at the University of Iowa. Snow holds a bachelor’s degree as Distinguished Alumna of East China Normal University and a master’s degree in music from the University of Delaware. As part of her doctoral studies, Snow studied conducting with Dr. William LaRue Jones.

At age 19, Snow received a full scholarship to play violin in the Asian Youth Orchestra, founded by Yehudi Menuhin and Richard Pontzious. As an orchestral musician, she has performed in numerous major concert halls throughout Asia, including the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall, Kyoto Concert Hall, Seoul Art Center, Shanghai Concert Hall, Shanghai Oriental Art Center, Beijing National Centre for the Performing Arts, Hong Kong Cultural Centre and Taipei National Concert Hall. Snow also performs as a soloist and has performed in Shanghai Concert Hall in China, Okiden Sugarhall in Okinawa Japan, and with the University of Iowa Symphony Orchestra during their 2018 concert tour.

Snow is passionate about helping young musicians not only to improve their musical skills but also to develop a love for music. She has taught hundreds of students at the Shanghai Youth Center (Minhang district) in China, in Newark, Delaware, in Iowa City, and in her own studio in Shanghai. Since 2015, she has worked with the Master Player International Music Festival in Newark, Delaware, building connections with young musicians and music masters.

Ethan Kwon is an 11th grader attending Ames High School, currently studying under Professor George Work. Kwon has played the cello since 4th grade, and it has become one of his biggest passions. He is actively involved in the ISU Cello Choir and has participated in the Iowa All-State Music Festival since he was a freshman. In addition, Kwon has participated in programs such as the Des Moines Youth Symphony and the Iowa State University Chamber Orchestra, as well as attended various other music festivals such as Drake, Cello Dayz, and Zenith. Besides playing the cello, Ethan enjoys playing games, reading, and hanging out with friends and is considering pursuing a degree in aerospace engineering or a medical-related field in college.

The concert is sponsored, in part, by a grant from Wapello County Foundation and a generous contribution from Community 1st Credit Union.

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