When watching the CWSO perform, one can see that the orchestra is arranged into sections: the strings, the brass, the woodwinds, and the percussion. Within each of these sections, there is a specific order to where each performer sits depending on the part they play, which is determined through an audition. In every section, there is a principal player who serves as the section leader. This player will perform any solos for their instrument if the piece calls for it. The string principal players are responsible for their section’s bowings and articulations, phrasing and overall musicality, and coordinated entrances cued by the conductor. Players in an orchestra know to not only watch the conductor but to watch the principal player of their section as well.
We’d like to introduce you to our very skilled and dedicated principal string players:
Steve Bjella has been the concertmaster for the CWSO for 29 years. He holds degrees in performance and music education from the University of Iowa, where he studied with Leopold LaFosse and the Stradivari Quartet. Steve joined the music faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1991 and held the position of Artist/Teacher of Violin and Professor of Music until his recent retirement in the spring of 2019.
Trudi Bergerson, principal second violin, has played with the CWSO for over 15 years during the last 30 years. She has a bachelor’s degree in Music Education- Instrumental and General Music K-12 from UW- Stevens Point, and a master’s degree in Computer Education K-6 from Cardinal Stritch University. She is a music teacher in the Wisconsin Rapids school district.
Mary Moran, principal violist, is in her fourth season with the CWSO, and serves as Education and Engagement Coordinator. She has bachelor and master of music degrees in viola performance from the University of Oklahoma and Southern Methodist University. She also has an undergraduate degree in liberal arts, and a graduate degree in music history and literature.
Lawrence Leviton, co-principal cellist, has been playing with the CWSO for most of the past 30 years. He holds a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Illinois, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota, a master’s degree from Northwestern, and a doctorate from the University of WI- Madison all in music performance.
David Story, principal bass, has been a part of the CWSO for approximately 18 years, first playing while he was a student at UW-Stevens Point (studying under Catalin Rotaru), and later returning as professor of string bass and jazz studies. He received his M.M. in performance from Western Michigan University where he studied with Tom Knific as a graduate fellow.
Heidi Corcoran, co-principal cellist, has played with the CWSO for 15 years. She has a B.A. in Music from Luther College, and did graduate work at UW- Milwaukee for Chamber Music Performance, and UW-Stevens Point for Music Education. She and husband, Aaron Marx (2nd violin), own Noteworthy Music Studio and Clearly Simple Consulting Agency.\
We asked Steve, Trudi, Mary, Lawrence, Heidi and Dave several questions so you can get to know them a little better.
How old were you when you began learning your instrument and why did you choose it?
Steve- 9 years old. I picked violin because a good friend chose violin and I couldn’t play trumpet because my front four teeth were out (thank goodness our first teeth are not our permanent teeth.)
Trudi- I started playing the violin in 4th grade at age 9. I was introduced to orchestra in school, and knew immediately that I had to play the violin.
Mary- My parents are both musicians and teachers, so I had lots of opportunities to try out different instruments and attend symphony concerts as a kid. My mom played viola in the Grand Rapids Symphony for many years, so I would go to her concerts all the time. Looking back I think that contributed to my music education nearly as much as learning to play an instrument! I had Suzuki violin lessons for two years, and then switched to piano lessons. I started viola in my sixth grade school orchestra. I remembered just enough violin at the time to know I didn’t prefer the high sound, and cello felt like I was playing it backward. My mom never expected or asked me to play viola, but it was a very natural choice for me. And now I think viola suits my personality best!
Lawrence- 9 years old. This one is kind of hard to remember but I loved the sound and my parents, who were concert pianists, encouraged me to play an instrument. (I had also started the piano)
Heidi- I was 5 when I started cello lessons with the Suzuki program in Oshkosh. I chose cello because cellists got to sit during lessons and violinists always had to stand.
Dave- I started on the piano when I was 5 or 6, and joined the school music program originally on trombone. I switched to bass mostly so I could play jazz and other styles of music.
What are your hobbies?
Steve- Reading, hiking, and biking.
Trudi- I love to read, go to Broadway musicals, and travel.
Mary- I’m kind of a compulsive knitter- when I get started on a project it’s all I want to do with my free time. I also devote way too much time to crossword puzzles. And if I’m not doing either of those things, I’m reading. Sounds like I probably need more physical activity in my life.
Lawrence- Watching films, both classic and new ones with my wife, Pam, and friends, discovering great new film scores, walking our dogs Sophie and Leo. I enjoy sports, including cycling, running, racquet sports and… new this year- pickleball! I like traveling. We have family in Albuquerque and I love the southwest.
Heidi- Binge-watching Netflix, family outings, reading British novels, and forcing my kids to practice violin and cello.
Dave- Music is about the only thing I have time for. (I have a lot of kids!)
What do you like the most about living in Stevens Point?
Steve- The natural beauty of the area and the kind, thoughtful people.
Trudi- I actually live in Rapids, but since I went to college in Point, it’s kind of a second home for me. It’s small enough to be warm and comfortable, yet being a university town, there are many cultural events to partake in.
Mary- There’s so much I like! I love the music performance and learning community here: organizations like the CWSO, UWSP, and the Aber Suzuki Center (where I also teach), plus the many music teachers and performers who make this a rewarding place to be. I also like that there’s always a good outdoor place to go that’s close to anywhere you are.
Lawrence- Many things… the sense of community- a shared sense of everyone wanting to make the town livable, with a great quality of life for everyone; our great University; the area’s natural beauty and easy access to beautiful parts of nature; Wisconsin’s great cities; and I can be out on my bike on a country road in 4 minutes or less… and much more.
Heidi- The wonderful outdoor opportunities in the city like the Green Circle and Schmeekle Reserve.
Dave- It is a great small community that supports the arts and is a terrific place to raise a family.
What is something unique about you that you can share with our patrons?
Steve- I enjoy the humbling experience of composing music. I love the poems of Mary Oliver. I wish I could have had tea with Mr. Fred Rogers, my hero.
Trudi- I’ve traveled to 8 different countries.
Mary- I bake an excellent blueberry pie.
Lawrence- I played soccer much of my life. I played on the University of Illinois Soccer Club (before they had a varsity team), and played on teams in Stevens Point until about 10 years ago when my knees finally said “enough is enough!” I still follow my favorite teams around the world though.
Heidi- That without shoes, I am not quite 5 feet tall.
Dave- I have 6 kids, and so far 5 of them study violin.