Painting of Don Lovejoy by Julie Johnston, 2018

Dr. Donald Lovejoy to retire as Winona Symphony Orchestra director


By Kayleen Berwick, WSO Board; and Gretchen Michlitsch, WSO Board VP

For nearly 20 years, Dr. Donald Lovejoy has played a pivotal role in Winona’s classical music scene. This spring, Lovejoy retires from his position as director of bands at Winona State University. At the same time, he is also retiring from his role of music director with the Winona Symphony Orchestra (WSO).

Lovejoy has had a long and successful career. His degrees include a bachelor’s degree in music education from Asbury College (Kentucky), a master’s in orchestral conducting from the University of Regina (Canada), a second master’s in trumpet performance from Northwestern University (Illinois) and a doctorate with emphases in wind, orchestral, and choral conducting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

An accomplished trumpet player, Lovejoy was assistant principal in the Regina Symphony, studied performance at the doctoral level at the American Conservatory for Music and free-lanced in Chicago for seven years.

As an orchestral conductor, Lovejoy directed the Regina Community Orchestra (Canada) and the Monona Chamber Music Society (Wisconsin). He was assistant conductor for the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra and for the UW-Madison Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra. As a wind conductor, Dr. Lovejoy was director of bands at Bethel College (Ind.) and Saint Xavier University (Ill.) as well as assistant conductor for the UW-Madison Wind Ensemble, Sinfonietta, and Concert Band.

In Winona, Lovejoy successfully transitioned the WSO into a fully professional orchestra. Violinist Heidi Guenther Ryan said, “Dr. Donald Lovejoy champions the Winona Symphony Orchestra, generously conferring on both audience and musician his unvarying commitment to the orchestra’s musical integrity. Don fervently mines the orchestra for the vein of musical gold concealed within the orchestra’s collective talents.”

WSO Board President Tim Hornseth said, “As music director, Don crafted an amazing number of successful concerts and programs utilizing his knowledge of the various strengths of the musicians available to him, as well as his rich background of musical repertoire. He mixes well known program favorites with lesser-played, but still important pieces, appreciated by musicians and audiences alike.”

Lovejoy was instrumental in revitalizing Winona Symphony Orchestra’s annual Children’s Concerts, which reach almost 1,300 elementary students. Lovejoy describes the experience of directing the Children’s Concerts: “[J]ust coming in the door there’s a higher level of energy. If there’s something funny in the story, it’s immediately obvious because the kids get it — and they’re not inhibited in expressing the fact that they got the funny part.”

WSO cellist Rachael Ryan Dahlgren said, “Dr. Lovejoy directs the Winona Symphony with a grace and selflessness that’s an example to leaders everywhere. His commitment to bring beauty to our community is all the more remarkable because of the unparalleled devotion and humility with which he does it.”

Following his retirement, Lovejoy and his wife Lois will move to the Twin Cities. They look forward to experiencing a wide variety of music performances.

This Saturday evening, March 24, Lovejoy will direct his final concert with the Winona Symphony Orchestra. The program includes Ridout’s “Tafelmusik,” Copland’s “Appalachian Spring,” and Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 2 in D Major.“

As Guenther Ryan said, “Don is a treasure and we will miss him.”


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