OTTUMWA — Local choirs join the Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra (SEISO) to bring Musique Francaise to Bridge View.

March 24 and 25 will be the third concert where SEISO and local choirs put their efforts together. Bob McConnell, SEISO musical director, said he is proud of what the board has done to make the team work.

“A lot of people don’t understand that our mission is providing performance opportunities for local musicians,” said McConnell

One soloist for the concert is local voice coach and choir director Dr. Christine Bergan, who called the pieces a “diamond in the rough.” McConnell and Bergan are both accomplished musicians in their own rights, and said many hours are put in for the concert on both ends.

“I have had five two-hour practices for my choir members,” Bergan said. “Want to be prepared with three performances in 24 hours.”

The joint effort with local choirs and musicians has made SEISO become one of the premier outlets for music according to McConnell.

“Joining with all the other choirs puts us to around 110 or 120 voices,” said Bergan. “It’s a great cross-section of voices, and a good representation of southeast Iowa.”

Both said each concert and joint rehearsal makes them and their musicians better and hope people will be just as astounded as they are. A large point is bring attention to music, and local musicians especially while making the concerts an enjoyable experience for everyone.

“It’s really a unique time period where all these pieces were composed within 30 years. There is direct relation to French art,” McConnell said. “We want to teach and show people. We go in as though there are always people in the audience for people who have never been to an orchestra concert before. People have the idea it’s [orchestra music] stuffy, but we play as if we’re playing for friends.”

With a school concert series beginning in Burlington and then coming to Ottumwa, SEISO hopes to attract more locals to join or just attend more concerts. The concert at Bridge View is at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 25. Tickets can be purchased online at while children and students may attend at no charge.

Aaryn Frazier can be reached at or on Twitter at CourierAaryn.


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