The Hope College Symphonette is one of only four orchestras from around the country invited to perform during the 2007 National Conference of the American String Teachers Association.

The 32-member Symphonette, which is directed by Richard Piippo of the Hope music faculty, was chosen from a pool of more than 100 college orchestras that had applied for the honor. The conference will run Wednesday-Saturday, March 7-10, at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center. The Symphonette will perform on Friday, March 9.

"This is quite an honor for the Symphonette and Hope College," said Piippo, who is director of orchestral activities and an associate professor of cello/chamber music at Hope. "We are proud to have been selected from among so many applicants, especially since this year's annual meeting is taking place in our home state."

Organized in 1953, the Symphonette is selected each year from the larger college symphony orchestra. The Symphonette has made numerous radio and television appearances and has presented children's and youth concerts in addition to its series of formal concerts. The Symphonette has performed for the biennial meetings of the Music Educators' National Conference (MENC) and appears regularly in cities in Michigan. The Symphonette has appeared on the nationally televised "Hour of Power" from Garden Grove Church in California.

The Symphonette conducts a tour each spring, which has taken it from coast to coast in the U.S. as well as to two provinces in Canada, the British Isles, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The spring 2006 tour included cities in Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida.

Piippo has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1999. His career began as cellist with the Milwaukee Symphony, and his reputation grew when he captured first place in two national cello competitions. He appears as a soloist and chamber player throughout the United States and Canada, performs as an adjunct cellist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and is the cellist with the Anchor Piano Trio at Hope.

Since 1996, he has spent his summers on the faculty of Seminar at Western Michigan University, as conductor, solo performer, teacher and coach. His work with the Detroit Symphony has included tours of Europe, Japan, Carnegie Hall and numerous recordings. During the summer of 2000, he performed as a soloist and chamber player on the Fontana Chamber Music Festival, the Chamber Music Festival of Saugatuck and the Dearborn Summer Music Festival. He is in his 11th season has artistic director/conductor of the Dearborn Summer Music Festival.

Born in Wisconsin, Piippo holds his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he studied with George Sopkin of the Fine Arts Quartet. He has also worked with Pierre Fournier in Switzerland and Lazio Varga and Margaret Rowell at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. His conducting studies were with George Cleve, Donald Craig and Marvin Rabin.

Founded in 1947, the American String Teachers Association promotes excellence in string and orchestra teaching, including through conferences, publications and professional development opportunities. The membership includes high school- and college-level educators and other music professionals from around the country. More than 1,100 people attended the national conference in 2005.