Davenny Wyner to Step Down as Music Director of Warren Philharmonic

WARREN, Ohio – Susan Davenny Wyner is stepping down as music director and conductor of the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra, bringing an end to her 24 years of leadership.

She will conduct her final WPO concert April 21 at First Presbyterian Church.

A pillar of the Mahoning Valley’s arts community, Davenny Wyner is known and esteemed on a national level.

A search for her replacement will begin immediately, according to William Mullane, chairman of the WPO board of directors.

Davenny Wyner said her decision has been in the works for months.

“I had told the board in June that I thought this should be my last year,” she said Wednesday in a phone interview from her Boston home.

“This is a time of transition [for orchestras], and I think it is very important to have somebody who can be there as part of the community to help fundraise and raise awareness in a way that I simply can’t,” she said.

Davenny Wyner typically returns to the area only for concerts, staying for a few days or weeks each visit.

“When we were doing four or five concerts a year, I was able to be part of the community in a way that I thought helped the orchestra,” she said. “And that was important to me because the Philharmonic is so special to me. The players have such a special quality, and I want to make sure the new leader will be there and help it to survive and thrive.”

The conductor, who was also an opera singer early in her career, said “it’s been a wonderful 24 years” in Warren, but it’s not completely over.

“I will remain as part of the musical community through Opera Western Reserve,” she said. Davenny Wyner is the music director of the Youngstown-based opera company and will return in the fall to prepare for its Nov. 22 production of “La Traviata” at Powers Auditorium.

She said she is excited about her final concert with the WPO, which will feature Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 and other pieces.

Davenny Wyner stressed she is not retiring. “I’ve got several recording and concert projects in the works in Boston,” she said.

Her career highlights in the Valley include a 2018 concert with world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma at Warren Community Amphitheatre that included members of the WPO and Youngstown Symphony Orchestra.

But it was just one of many memories.

“I did over 70 concerts with the WPO, and at least 420 pieces of music and some wonderful [guest] soloists,” she said.

She also transformed the outfit from a chamber orchestra to a philharmonic, which expanded its sound and enabled it to draw more support from the community.

Davenny Wyner has long been a major figure in the Valley’s art community.

“I’ve become deep friends with many of the musicians and people in the community,” she said. “They often started as students at YSU who left the area for a while and then came back, and to be part of their growth as people and artists and musicians has been incredibly moving to me.”

Under Davenny Wyner’s guidance, the WPO became a cornerstone of the Valley’s arts scene, board chairman Mullane said in a press release.

“Her passion, vision, and commitment to musical excellence have left an indelible mark on the hearts of both musicians and audiences alike,” he said.

“Her unwavering dedication to nurturing the talents of the orchestra members has contributed to the region’s music community and enriched the lives of everyone associated with the orchestra,” Mullane said.

Davenny Wyner has also led the WPO’s outreach programs, educational initiatives and collaborations with local artists and organizations.

“Her ability to connect with audiences of all ages has played a crucial role in fostering a deep appreciation for classical music within the Mahoning Valley,” Mullane said.

The conductor’s outreach programming included school concerts and an annual Art in Music contest for which packets of materials about instruments, notes from the conductor and special CDs of orchestral music were sent to third through eighth grade classroom teachers.

Davenny Wyner has received international acclaim for her conducting. The Library of Congress featured her in its 2003 Women Who Dare Engagement Calendar, and the MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour and WGBH Television have presented special documentary features on her life and work.

The New York Times has called her conducting “rapturous” and “richly textured and emotionally compelling.”

Her conducting credits include the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, Odense Danish Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Lyric Opera, Cleveland Orchestra members in benefit concerts, and concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. In addition to Yo-Yo Ma, her guest soloists have included André Previn, Lynn Harrell, Claude Frank, Peter Serkin and Emanuel Ax.

Persons interested in becoming the WPO’s next music director/conductor can email a letter of interest and résumé to warren.philharmonic@gmail.com or send by mail to: WPO Conductor Search Committee, C/O Leanna Dunaway, 154 N. Park Ave., Warren, OH 44481.

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