Dear Friends of the RSO,

During the week of October 9, I took this season’s Artist-in-Residence, Catherine Van Handel, to middle and high schools located in the City of Racine, Caledonia, Mount Pleasant, and Sturtevant.

Catherine is currently Principal Bassoon with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and very recently performed as Guest Principal for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and also the Boston Symphony Orchestra for their nine-city tour of Europe. To have a musician of her caliber interacting directly with RUSD students is a significant experience for them and for their teachers.

Catherine, along with esteemed UW-Milwaukee faculty pianist Johanna Brahm, performed music from Catherine’s first solo album, released in 2023. To have young musicians hear the bassoon in an extended solo capacity was a real treat (for this Executive Director, too!). She also coached some of the student musicians, and answered many, many questions.

Catherine was very open about her experiences as an immigrant from Taiwan with a single parent and two older siblings, relocating from Taipei to Texas, and then Connecticut. It very much humanized her to the students, I think.

She also spoke quite directly about what it takes to achieve excellence – certainly in music, in her case, but in any professional endeavor. The sacrifice of time and energy, of missing social time with friends, all in the service of doing something at a truly high level. Life lessons.

The week culminated with both Catherine and Johanna performing with the Racine Symphony Orchestra at First Presbyterian Church on a fantastically interesting program designed by RSO Artistic Director Pasquale Laurino.

With warmest regards,

Jonathan Winkle, Executive Director


Artist-in-Residence, Catherine Van Handel