“Music feeds my soul,” Mary Ann Gschwind, FSPA, is fond of saying. “And the La Crosse Symphony has played a big part in feeding my soul. We are absolutely blessed to have such an outstanding organization and are greatly enriched by what the symphony provides.”
“My life has been full of music,” Sister Mary Ann says.
In second grade, she started piano lessons, which continued through college. “I also took cello lessons and played in the Catholic Grade School Orchestra, the Aquinas Orchestra and the Viterbo Sinfonietta.”
Other lessons were on organ, clarinet and violin; plus, she taught herself to play guitar and soprano recorder.
“At Viterbo College, I was a music major as a freshman and sophomore. When I switched majors to English, music became my minor,” she said.
Learning more than she thought possible, the teachers and teachings intensified her love of music.
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From 2008-2014, Sister Mary Ann served on the La Crosse Symphony board. Again, she learned a great deal about the symphony’s inner workings and its education and youth programs, such as the Rising Stars Competition and Symphony for Youth.
She continues to be inspired by the dedication of past and present board members. “David Reedy started the endowment, which has been a real gift to the symphony,“ she says.
As an emeritus board member, she is still involved on the nominating and Conductor Wannabe committees.
“As a member of the Conductor Wannabe committee, I have enjoyed inviting outstanding area people to participate in this annual spring fundraiser which started in 1997,” she says.
In the past several years, half the funds each contestant raises goes to the symphony and half to a nonprofit chosen by the contestant.
This collaborative effort has been very invigorating for the contestants and a welcome bonus to the nonprofits benefiting from the fundraiser.
“From my personal experience as a Conductor Wannabe contestant, I have to say it was one of the most enjoyable projects in which I have ever participated.”
“Overall, my experiences with the La Crosse Symphony have been a real gift in many ways, not just ‘feeding my soul’ at the concerts but also connecting with like-minded lovers of music,” she says.