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Horn player Abby Hughes, student Aubrie Selsmeyer, brass faculty member Joshua Hernday and horn player Amelia Last walk across Algoma Boulevard on a chilly and windy November afternoon, replicating the iconic Beatles walking across Abbey Road (Michael Cooney photo)

A University of Wisconsin Oshkosh class that focuses on storytelling and community engagement spent a semester with members of the reimagined Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra, collecting stories about how music has shaped their lives and why an orchestra made up of community members matters.

UWO student Aubrie Selsmeyer with Dylan Chmura-Moore at a downtown sundial. (Kathy Bechard photo)

The project, called Score! Our Town, Our Music, is being produced by students in UWO instructor Grace Lim’s, Telling Stories for Fun, Profit and World Peace fall 2023 class.

“The student storytellers and Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra (OSO) seem to really have a shared purpose, to see people and all that makes them special,” said Dylan Chmura-Moore, OSO’s new maestro and director of orchestras at UW Oshkosh. “A violinist in the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra isn’t just a violinist; they are your mail delivery person or the nurse that will care for you when you’re at your most vulnerable; they have a family and spend their weekends shepherding kids at Menominee Park just like you perhaps do or did.”

The Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1941, went through several incarnations including the early days of community musicians, to working professionals that have little or no connection to the community. Under Chmura-Moore, who was appointed in 2023 to lead OSO, it is now a mingling of student musicians from UW Oshkosh, adult community musicians and a handful of professional musicians, all of whom have ties to the Fox Valley.


“We all have so much to give and to share but need amazing storytellers like Grace and her students to bring these awesome histories to life and recognize the immense passion and diversity in our community,” Chmura-Moore said.

Kat Idleman plays the trumpet in front of the Oshkosh Public Library (Steve Schultz ’90, ’03 photo)

Sophomore journalism major Aubrie Selsmeyer, interviewed Chmura-Moore for the project. She was delighted to learn that Chmura-Moore quit piano lessons as a kid because he didn’t want to practice what the teacher wanted him to practice.

“He just wanted to play what he wanted to play,” said Selsmeyer, a Green Bay native whose first experience of a live symphony orchestra came from attending a couple OSO rehearsals. “Working on the Score! project was unlike anything I’ve done in college so far. It was hands-on work that put me in front of real people doing what we all need a lot more of, simple human connection. I will always carry those people and stories with me wherever I go now.”

Over the semester, Selsmeyer and her fellow classmates interviewed 10 OSO musicians, diving into their musical journeys. They heard from UWO alumnus Nathaniel Fores, of Winneconne, who shared a story about finding his great-grandfather’s violin in the closet of his grandfather’s home. Fores, who graduated from UW Oshkosh in 2012 with a recording technology and music business degree and a nursing degree in 2022, now plays that 200-plus-years-old instrument in the orchestra. Fores said he stopped playing the violin for a while because of lifebeing a new dad along with challenges of his workbut when the new iteration of the OSO came to be, he felt the call once again to pick up the instrument. “With the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra, I have a reason to play and people to play for,” Fores said.

Three UWO alumni professional photographersKathy Bechard, Michael Cooney and Steve Schultzvolunteered to take photos of the musicians outside the concert hall and in the city.

Dylan Chmura-Moore, OSO’s new maestro and director of orchestras at UWO, is photographed in downtown Oshkosh by alumna Kathy Bechard ’90.

Photos and stories appear on the Humans of Oshkosh Facebook page and will be exhibited in the lobby of the UWO Music Hall, 1001 Elmwood Ave., just before the 7 p.m. Saturday, April 20 season finale concert, which will feature six soloists and about 100 singers.

Chmura-Moore said he is gratified that the stories of those who volunteer their time and talents to the OSO are being shared.

“Music may be the vehicle we use to come together, but what I love so much about the Score! Our Town, Our Music project is that now the musicians in the orchestra can share all that they are, all that we are, and be seen,” he said. “This is important because I think music making is more special when it’s being made by friends, neighbors, loved ones. We need this connection because it helps keep our community compassionate, supportive and trusting.”

Score! Our Town, Our Music, the Humans of Oshkosh special series, will have a photo/story exhibit in the lobby of the Arts and Communications building, Saturday April 20, to help celebrate Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra season finale concert that will begin at 7 p.m., UWO Music Hall, 1001 Elmwood Ave., Oshkosh. For more information, please visit

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