GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Magical.

That’s what dancing with a full orchestra was like Saturday night in the Lambeau Field Atrium.

The first selection, rich with hues of Cuban rhythms, immediately brought dancers to a wooden dance floor placed at an angle between the goal line and 20 yard line on the Atrium’s marble gridiron.

An echo in the loft of the space created a haunting aura to the first moments, and the dancers familiar with ballroom moves rolled with flow.

Then, the music and conductor Seong-Kyung Graham and the 75-musician orchestra kept shifting gears and speeds – and challenges for the dancers.

This selection was orchestral music of growing complexity.

Some dancers improvised, making up moves to what their body told them about the rhythms.

Most of the dancers retreated but would return as the Civic Symphony of Green Bay covered a waterfront of musical styles for dancing.

Host Michele McCormack foretold in her introduction what would happen: Break down the barrier between the orchestra and the audience in an iconic setting.

A few hours later, the Atrium filled with cheers and urgings for the orchestra to play an encore of the most-popular music this audience wanted – swing. It happened, and the dance floor and walkways again filled with folks having some real, live fun with a symphonic orchestra struttin’ its stuff.

Personality filled the evening many ways.

At times, the place radiated the sociable aura of elegant ball. Time flashed to maybe 1875 in a ballroom in a mansion with everyone dressed to the nines and gliding to a Strauss waltz.

The audience was sprinkled with skilled dancers, filled with grace and flair. But many, many people were game to try anything. Music for hoe-down was a big challenge, but three dancers invented their way through enjoyment.

Surprise! The polka flunked as a draw on the first visit to it. The Johann Strauss “Tritsch-Tratsch Polka,” while lively to listen to, proved too tricky to attempt except for one couple. “Thunder and Lighting Polka,” which ended the program, was more in the local style and drew many to the dance floor – and prompt the encore.

A life-is-good tone filled introductions of Michele McCormack, stepping away from her news anchor desk at WFRV-TV to illuminate the evening with enthusiasm.

The music showed the versatility of the orchestra – and Seong-Kyung Graham’s willingness to step aside sometimes. The concert included arias from the opera “Carmen” sung with enacted action and vivid voice by guest mezzo-soprano Jessica Timman Schwefel… and people danced as they listened to the glories in the music played so well. Dancing to opera – whoda thunk? The soloist also had a warmup involving Anna and Gary somewhere in the audience, singing “Happy Birthday” with an operatic finale. Whoda thunk? Twice, Seong-Kyung Graham called on Greg Sauve from the trumpet section to lead the players through the moves and grooves of jump, shout and all the other stuff of swing. Greg Sauve knows the territory from playing in the Green Bay Packers Band and directing the Green Bay City Band, etc., etc.

The concert was part of a day that the Civic Symphony of Green Bay devoted to connecting with people in new ways. Included earlier were Lambeau Field tours, ballroom dance lessons and dining on site.

Seong-Kyung Graham found another box to think outside of, her trademark as artistic director of the organization.

The concert/dancing had an if-only quality: If only it could be bottled and opened again exactly the same.


Program: “Gridiron Gala with the Symphony”

Conductor: Seong-Kyung Graham

Host: Michele McCormack

Part I

+ “Danzón No. 2” by Arturo Márquez

+ “Voices of Spring Waltz, Opus 410” by Johann Strauss II

+ “Pizzicato Polka, Opus 449” by Johann Straus II and Josef Strauss

+ “Jump Swing Fever” arranged by John Wasson

   Greg Sauve, guest conductor

+ “Tales from the Vienna Woods, Opus 325” by Johann Strauss II

+ “Trisch-Tratsch Polka, Opus 214” by Johann Strauss II

Part II

+ “Habanera” and “Seguidilla” from “Carmen” by Georges Bizet

   Jessica Timman Schwefel, mezzo-soprano

+ “Moondust (American Sketches No. 6)” arranged by Mike Lewis

   Greg Sauve, guest conductor

+ “Blue Tango” by Leroy Anderson

+ “Waltz of the Flowers” from “The Nutcracker” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

+ “Hoe-Down” from “Rodeo” by Aaron Copland

+ “Thunder and Lighting Polka” by Johann Strauss II



+ First violin: Taylor Giorgio, concertmaster; Charlotte Bogda, Chris Williams, Amanda Barnes, Natalie Sturicz-Heiges, Brooke LaMonica, Emily Walters, TJ Lutz, Samuel Bieneman, TJ Lutz, Larry Frye, Beth Chafey-Hon

+ Second violin: Jennifer Coopman, principal; Claire Kohlmeyer, Dan Bogda, April Baeb, Hannah Loveless, Patricia Wilson, Mary Beth Williams, Dwight Hayes, Sarah Krienke, Angela Jarvie, Margi Diny, John Kolar

+ Viola: Blakeley Menghini, principal; Matt Kirkendall, Cyndee Giebler, Barb Akins, Martha Frater, Karen Barth, Erica Huettl, Rebecca Proefrock

+ Cello: Adam Korber, principal; James Wagner, Luba Letunovskaya, David Giebler, Mary Ellen Kozak, Ian Froelich, Chelsea Breyer, Anna Lersch

+ Bass: Lee Klemens, principal; Jane Kanestrom, James Wilke, Alexx Stadtlander, Amy Warmenhoven, Paul Johnson

+ Flute: Lynn Liddle-Drewiske, principal; Rose Van Himbergen, Jean Fontaine

+ Piccolo: Rose Van Himbergen

+ Oboe: Shannnon Hawkins, principal; Shawn Limberg

+ Clarinet: Timberly Kazmarek Marbes, principal; Althea Rosenberg

+ Bass clarinet: Melissa Huber

+ Bassoon: Michael Pittman, principal; Beth Shaw

+ Horn: Andrew Parks, principal; Stephen Taylor, assistant principal; Paul Oleksy, William Klumb, Theresa Pelkey

+ Trumpet: Dan Marbes, principal; Carisa Lueck, Greg Sauve, Steve DeVillers

+ Trombone: Bill Burroughs, principal; Brian Sauve, Timothy Kiefer

+ Tuba: Steve Wilda

+ Percussion: Mindy Popke, principal; Ben Taylor, Mahri Hodges, Lauren Pritzl

+ Harp: Tammy Kazmierczak


NEXT: “Film Favorites (Our Family Concert),” Feb. 17, Walter Theatre, St. Norbert College.

THE VENUE: Located inside the Green Bay Packers stadium at 1265 Lombardi Ave. in Green Bay, the spacious Lambeau Field Atrium is a popular gathering place for fans and functions.  The atrium’s floor size – 39,561 square feet – is more than half a football field. The marble floor includes a gridiron that imitates the adjacent real deal “frozen tundra” outdoors. The atrium rises five stories, with exposed steel beams at the top. In the 360-degree view in the atrium are restaurants, rest rooms, images of famous Packers players, access to Packers offices above and entrances to the atrium, the field and other parts of the famous building. Acoustics were not factored for symphony orchestra concerts but are more than adequate for handling hundreds of unamplified notes per second played in strength by 75 or so musicians.