The Hope College Symphonette has been invited to perform during the opening-day gala concert at DeVos Performance Hall on Thursday, Jan. 25, for the Michigan Music Conference in Grand Rapids.

The conference is being held on Thursday-Saturday, Jan. 25-27, and is an in-service event for music educators in Michigan. The Symphonette will be one of four college or university instrumental or vocal ensembles performing during the opening concert, which will also include the Central Michigan University Concert Choir, the Alma College Percussion Ensemble and the Grand Rapids Symphonic Band. Performances by a variety of ensembles are scheduled throughout the conference, including the Black River High School Advanced String Orchestra and the West Ottawa Eighth and Ninth Grade Honors Choir from Holland.

The Jan. 25 performance is the first of two major invited appearances for the Symphonette within as many months. The 35-member group is one of only four orchestras from around the country invited to perform during the 2007 National Conference of the American String Teachers Association, chosen from a pool of more than 100 college orchestras that had applied for the honor. The national conference will run Wednesday-Saturday, March 7-10, at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center.

Organized in 1953, the Symphonette is selected each year from the larger college symphony orchestra. The group 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. This May, the Symphonette will travel to Europe, performing in Munich, Salzburg and Prague as well as a variety of other cities in the region. Linda Dykstra, soprano and associate professor of music, will accompany the group on the tour as soloist.

The Symphonette is directed by Richard Piippo of the Hope music faculty, who is director of orchestral activities and an associate professor of cello/chamber music at the college.

Piippo has taught at Hope 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 recently completed his 11th season as 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.

More information about the conference may be obtained by calling (734) 975-1297 or online at