New series pairs fine art, classical music

Winona Symphony Orchestra violinist and concertmaster Hillary Kingsley played during a performance earlier this year.



Community members have an opportunity to immerse themselves in music and art simultaneously. A new collaboration between the Winona Symphony Orchestra (WSO) and Minnesota Marine Art Museum (MMAM) pairs music with paintings for a series of four chamber concerts at the museum called “Water Music.”  

At each event, attendees will learn about a piece or two of the museum’s collection from museum staff and music that relates to the art from musicians. Small groups of musicians will then perform the music in the museum’s galleries. 

“Our goal for audience members who come is that they can experience the art in the museum in a totally different way and experience the music we perform in a totally different way,” WSO Music Director Erik Rohde said. 

MMAM Assistant Curator of Education and Exhibitions Dave Casey agreed that he hopes attendees see art in a new way because of the music and vice versa. “By pairing visual art and music together, we can have something greater than the sum of the parts,” he said. 

“I’m looking forward to broadening my own understanding and appreciation of these two art forms,” WSO Arts Administrator Rachael Ryan said. 

The goal is for attendees to feel closely connected with the music, art, musicians and museum staff, Rohde said. “I really hope that they’re inspired, that audience members are moved by the music,” he said.

To spur that connection, attendees are encouraged to speak with the musicians and museum staff after the event and ask them questions, Rohde said. “We’re really eager to make that very personal connection happen as a part of this series,” he said. “And that’s really valuable for us. As a musician, I always love it when people share with me how they are impacted by the music or how they felt in the performance.” 

The events will include different pieces of art and music with various themes and arrangements of musicians. The first event will feature a painting of the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty and two pieces by an American composer. As the first concert is on Veterans Day, organizers wished to tie in a patriotic symbol, Rohde said. The first event will also feature a piece by Mozart. Mozart created light and clarity in his works, Rohde said, just as color is used in the painting to create light. 

A clarinetist, oboist and string quartet will play at the first event. “The music is fantastic, and these are pieces that don’t often get played, so it’s nice to put them in front of the public,” clarinetist Daniel Sheridan said. 

The following concerts will include music by Bach, with string instruments, a vocalist, an oboe, a harp and pieces about water, including the Mississippi River, Rohde said. 

The concerts are starting soon, but the inspiration for them arose a few years in the past. Rohde grew up in Southeast Minnesota but hadn’t been to the MMAM until he started working with the WSO several years ago. As soon as he visited the museum, he wanted to collaborate with its leaders. “I was so inspired by the art in the museum, and also by the way the space is curated in the galleries of the museum,” he said. “It’s such a beautiful building to be in, and I just thought, ‘What an amazing place to make music.’” Collaborations between arts organizations help connect people and enrich the community, Rohde said, particularly during the pandemic. 

The events will take place on November 11, January 13, February 10 and April 28 at 7 p.m. at the MMAM. Tickets and more information may be found at or