kettle moraine background image

Christine Wiese: Cello was the ticket to a world of opportunities

Christine Wiese, Kettle Moraine Symphony cellist

Chris Wiese’s first encounter with the cello in fourth grade was more practical than musical.

“We had a ‘try out the instruments’ day at school. I had buckteeth back then, and was told that I wouldn't be able to achieve the right embouchure (mouth position) for any of the band instruments. That left the violin or the cello,” Wiese explained, adding that her thrifty parents also liked the cello’s lower rental cost.

“At the time, I was just happy to get to play any instrument, but I'm so glad I ‘fell’ into the cello,” said Wiese, who has been playing cello with the Kettle Moraine Symphony since 2012.

With a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Northern Iowa, Wiese has played in the North Iowa Symphony Orchestra, University of Northern Iowa Symphony Orchestra, Waterloo Cedar Falls Symphony, Fort Dodge Area Symphony, the Des Moines Community Orchestra, and the Iowa-based Encore String Quartet. She continues to play upright bass or bass guitar at her church, and in small ensembles. She also works as a freelance graphic designer.

What do you enjoy most about playing? Playing the cello has introduced me to people, places and experiences I might have never known otherwise.

What’s on your iPod? I secretly love country music. I always dreamed of playing fiddle in a country band.

What’s your favorite musical memory? My college orchestra travelled to Russia and had an opportunity to play a concert with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra. I got to share a stand with a big, burly Russian man who didn't speak English. We couldn't communicate with each other, but it was fun to play next to someone so talented, and also a good reminder of how music is universal.

Another time was when I got to play in a small string section that accompanied Dionne Warwick and her band. We didn't receive the music until the first and only rehearsal, which was the day of the concert. We had a couple of hours to practice, and then it was show time. The whole experience was pretty exhilarating.

What advice would you give to young musicians? Keep with it. Be confident and play or sing in a college ensemble, even if you aren't a music major. Music will bring you a lifetime of opportunities.