Wyner makes glorious exit as WPO conductor

WARREN — A double bar line signifies the end of a classical composition, and Sunday at First Presbyterian Church, Susan Davenny Wyner put a double bar line on her 24-year tenure as conductor and music director of the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra.

“It’s such a joy to make music with them,” Wyner said following Sunday’s performance. “I kept trying to avoid thinking about it being the last time with this ensemble, so we just dug in and made glorious music.”

Leanna Dunaway, assistant executive director of the orchestra, presented Wyner with a bouquet of tulips at the end of the concert, and a post-concert reception was held at the Trumbull Country Club.

Wyner’s decision to step down was announced by the orchestra in February, but she notified the board last summer of her intentions.

Wyner lives in Boston with her husband, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Yehudi Wyner, and she said in February that she believed the orchestra needed a music director who could be more present in the community for fundraising and outreach, and that was difficult with the orchestra only playing two concerts a year because of budgetary constraints.

Sunday’s concert featured works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and 20th century American composer Florence Price and closed with Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A, Opus 92.

“I will miss the willingness to explore and the gifts they bring and the sensitive response to ideas,” Wyner said about the orchestra’s musicians. “I will miss the board and the players and the people. I’ve met so many special people through working with the orchestra.”

She will continue to serve as music director and conductor for Opera Western Reserve in Youngstown.

Bassist Jeff Bremer, who has played with the orchestra for more than 40 years, said it’s been a “pleasure” to work with Wyner.

“It’s good to play Beethoven and Mozart any time, and she seems to have an intuitive kind of knowledge of it,” Bremer said.

When asked to comment on Wyner’s legacy with the orchestra, board chair William Mullane referred to what he wrote for Sunday’s program — “We will be forever grateful for her leadership, artistic vision and the countless performances that have enriched the lives of those fortunate enough to experience them live. … Words are insufficient in expressing our organization’s appreciation for what Susan has given us over the past quarter of a century.”

“I can’t say it any better than that,” Mullane said.

In an interview earlier this month, Wyner listed the two concerts featuring Warren native Austin Pendleton and some of his Broadway co-stars among the highlights of her tenure with the orchestra.

Pendleton — an actor, director and playwright known for his work on stage, screen and television — shared some of his memories of those performances via email.

“The two concerts I was involved with in Warren were two of the most exhilarating events I’ve been involved with in years,” Pendleton wrote. “Some of this was due to the quality of the people I was performing with, but much of it was due to the way that Susan integrated, as gracefully as any musical director I’ve ever worked with (and I’ve been around), the dramatic aspects of the music and the musical aspects of the drama.

“I’ve tried to carry the lessons she imprinted on me into my other work in musicals or cabaret, and I do believe that some of those might have been woebegone had it not been for the inspired impatience, and the KINDLY relentlessness that Susan brought out in me, and in everybody I was working with … Bless your heart, Susan, bless your soul, and bless the flowing river within you that led these gifts you have into our souls.”

Have an interesting entertainment story? Email Entertainment Editor Andy Gray at agray@



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