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Petzel: Southwest Symphony Orchestra marking 50th anniversary

Greetings, fellow Oak Lawnians! The Southwest Symphony Orchestra opens its 2013-14 season and kicks off its 50th anniversary with its “Timeless Melodies” performance at 4 p.m. Oct. 6, featuring pianist Tomasz Robak.

The orchestra has a special season lined up to celebrate its golden anniversary, from its popular “Home for the Holidays” concert Dec. 10 to the “From Ireland to Distant Planets” concert in May, featuring the Cross Keys Irish Dancers.

David Crane has been the orchestra’s music director since 1992. Reflecting on how the SSO has changed over the years, Crane said it has grown in many ways.

“Most immediately is the quality of the orchestra and next is the size of the orchestra,” he said. “I think every single member is very proud to be in it and impressed with the sound of the orchestra. The bar has definitely been raised.”

The SSO was founded in the spring of 1964 by Alfred Aulwurm, a violinist, teacher, conductor and Oak Lawn resident. Aulwurm approached Daniel Seyman, an Oak Lawn businessman and violinist, with his idea to start a community orchestra. They invited other musicians to join, and the Southwest Symphony Orchestra was born.

Today, the orchestra has 65 active members, with “full percussion, brass, wind, strings and a plethora of violins, which is a nice luxury. The orchestra is as big as it has ever been,” Crane said.

Members range in age from high school to over 70, including several members who have been with the orchestra for more than 20 years.

Crane said the 50th season is a “milestone. We’re pulling out a lot of stops this year. ... It’s such a beautiful, cultural resource right in our own back yard, and we really are trying to make people aware.”

The orchestra performs five concerts each season in October, November, December, March and May at Trinity Christian College’s Ozinga Auditorium, 6601 College Drive, Palos Heights. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door. Prices are $5 (students), $15 to$20 (seniors), $20 to $25 (adults) and children under 12 are free.

Southwest Symphony Orchestra is headquartered at 5164 W. 95th St., Oak Lawn. For concert or other information, visit www.southwestsymphony.com or call 708-802-0686.

Here are this week’s celebrity announcements: Happy 8th birthday to Collin Gerger from his parents, Kara and Joe, and Mary Grace. Morgan Soch’s parents, Michelle and Ralph, and grandparents, Mary Ann and Rich Soch, wish her a happy 11th birthday. Happy 14th birthday to Emma Weston from her family and Cocoa. Kara and Stephen Jones wish their daughter, Victoria, a happy 15th birthday.

Joseph Kupiszewski’s mother and grandmother wish him a happy birthday. Birthday wishes go out to Kasey and William Conroy from their parents. Happy 16th birthday to Anthony Pender, with love, from his parents, Matt, Katie, Kelsey, Joey, Lexy, Kristen and Abby. Happy 16th birthday to Anthony Lopez from his godmother, Tara, and Jimmy. Cheryl and Mike Daly wish their son, Ryan, a happy 18th birthday.

Happy 18th birthday to Adam Smith from his parents, Sue and Bob, Alexis and Sandy. Happy 18th birthday to Anise Abu-Kawod from his parents, Mohamed and Dolores, and Sophia and Nora. Allyson and Kurt Chitman wish their daughter, Nicole, a happy 24th birthday. Happy 29th birthday to Jenn Hermann from her parents, Judy and Joe. Happy birthday to Erin Gonsowski from Keith, Steven, Erica and her mom, Dawn Carlsen.

Happy birthday to Cori Ellis from her husband, Ian, and Jacob. Loving birthday wishes go out to my mom, Rose Marie Leon, from her husband, John, Lambchop and family. Happy birthday to Patricia Ciametti from her daughters and pals at Sit n’ Pretty. Brian Feerick sends loving birthday wishes to his wife Carrie. Happy birthday to Juanita Sullivan from Kaitlyn. Birthday wishes go out to Glenn Chovanec and Dan Perrino.

Happy birthday to Geri McKay from her family. Aggie and Eugene Mark wish their grandson, Joe Heneghan, a happy birthday. A happy 89th to Joseph Beranek, with love, from his family. Happy belated birthday to Donna Burns, who would like to give a birthday shout out to “Payton, Justin, Marty and Kevin, our neighbors on 97th and Tulley.”

Frank and Carolyn LoScuito announce the birth of their son, Theodore, born on Aug. 31 at 7:20 p.m., weighing 8 lbs. 8 ozs. and 221/2 inches long. Teddy’s parents and family send him their love.

Wedding anniversary wishes go out to the following couples: Lee and Jannine Hofman on their 5th anniversary; Patrick and Donna Burns on their silver 25th; Nick and Eileen Kawacin on their 32nd; Mike and Barb Owsianiak’s golden anniversary and Bob and Rene Fitzgerald on their 53rd.

Keep your fellow Oak Lawnians informed about birthdays, special events or special “stuff” going on with your family or within the community. Call me at (708) 899-9544 or email me at the address above.

Until next time...



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