Artistic directors

Svend Close Up 2015SVEND RØNNING is in his fourteenth year as Artistic Director of the Second City Chamber Series. He is one of the most active musicians in the Puget Sound, serving as Chair of the Faculty of Stringed Instruments at Pacific Lutheran University and Concertmaster of the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra. As soloist, he has appeared with various orchestras, including the Charlottesville Symphony, the Prague Radio Symphony and Orchestra Seattle and has served as Concertmaster for several orchestras around the country, including the Charlottesville Symphony, the San Jose Symphony, and the Tacoma Opera. Dr. Rønning has an extensive experience in chamber music, having founded the Rivanna String Quartet at the University of Virginia and currently serving as violinist with the Regency String Quartet at PLU.

Dr. Rønning graduated from Pacific Lutheran University where he was mentored by violinist Ann Tremaine and SCCS Artistic Director Emeritus Jerry Kracht, and has worked with a number of other distinguished teachers including Syoko Aki, Sidney Harth, Jaap Schröder and members of the Tokyo String Quartet. He is a former faculty member of the University of Virginia and holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Yale University.

The Second City Chamber Series has received consistent critical acclaim during Svend Rønning’s tenure as Artistic Director. Rosemary Ponnekanti of the Tacoma News Tribune summarizes, “Thank Goodness for the Second City Chamber Series.”

Jerry KrachtJERRY KRACHT served as Second City Chamber Series artistic director for twenty-five years–from 1982 to 2007–and as frequent clarinetist on the Series from its inception in 1977 through the close of the 2006-2007 season. During that time he oversaw the programming and production of nearly 150 concerts, performing on some 80 of them himself.

Under his leadership, Series offerings were more than doubled over the years, with venues added at Lakewold Gardens and First Lutheran Church in addition to the original Annie Wright School. He also led the Series to awards for artistic excellence from both the Tacoma Arts Commission and the Pierce County Arts Commission and established an educational adjunct for young musicians, the Young Chamber Players, soon to enter its third decade.

Dr. Kracht taught clarinet and conducted the University Symphony Orchestra at Pacific Lutheran University for over thirty years. He is now emeritus professor of music there, where he was also a founding member of the Camas Wind Quintet and the Regency Concert Series. In addition to his many performances in the Northwest–both for Second City Chamber Series and Pacific Lutheran University–he has performed in Canada, Japan, The Peoples Republic of China, Hong Kong, Australia, Norway and Germany. For his work in both organizations, he was given the 2007 Margaret K. Williams Excellence in the Arts Award by the Pierce County Arts Commission.

He has served in an advisory role as artistic director emeritus at Second City Chamber Series since 2007.



WILLA DOPPMANN (1939-2018) was Artistic Director of the Second City Chamber Series from 1977 until 1982. She received her formal training at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and also served on the piano faculty there. She later taught piano at Southwest Texas University in San Marcos. Upon returning to her native Pacific Northwest in the mid 1970s she soon figured prominently in many performances of chamber music in the Tacoma area, most notably as co-founder, with her husband, pianist William Doppmann, of the Second City Chamber Series.

Under her leadership the Second City Chamber Series won both the Allied Arts Award for Cultural Achievement and the Tacoma/Pierce County Civic Arts Commission Award for Community Contribution in the Arts. A credit to her artistry and early vision, the series now celebrates its thirty-seventh season in 2013-2014. In addition to her chamber music activities, Mrs. Doppmann also appeared locally as piano soloist with the Northwest Chamber Orchestra and the Pacific Lutheran University Symphony Orchestra, and in two-piano performances with her husband. The Second City Chamber Series produced a compact disc recording of the Doppmanns performing works of Rachmaninoff, Lutosławski, Mozart and Debussy and Ravel for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Series in 2002.

Willa Doppman most recently appeared on the Second City Chamber Series in January, 2007, performing “Sessions with Dr. Cyclops,” a work commissioned by the Second City Chamber Series composed by her husband, William Doppmann.

She passed away on November 5, 2018 on the island of Hawai’i in the company of her beloved son Greg and his family.

The Second City Chamber Series honored Willa Doppmann during the 2019-2020 Season in a program entitled “Willa Doppmann and Her Legacy,” performing some of her favorite chamber works as well as a new work composed in her honor by Artistic Director Emeritus Jerry Kracht, “‘Incantation’ on a Poem by Willa Doppmann.”

William DoppmannWILLIAM DOPPMANN (1934-2013) was a winner of the Naumburg, Michaels and Leventritt Competitions. He concertized in the United States, Canada, Europe, South America and the Far East. His performances as recitalist, chamber musician and soloist with major orchestras, including the Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, Detroit, Seattle and Tokyo Symphonies, were consistently met with the highest critical praise. “Fanfare” magazine called him an exceptional pianist, one of the great unheralded keyboard artists of the late twentieth-century. He appeared at numerous festivals including Marlboro, Cleveland s Blossom Festival, Ravinia in Chicago, the Hong Kong International Festival, Chamber Music Northwest and the Kuhmo International Festival in Finland. His 1986 New York recital at Lincoln Center was described by the New York Times as one of the most distinctive of the season.
As a composer, Mr. Doppmann received two NEA Consortium Grants, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the University of Michigan Alumni Citation of Merit, and an ASCAP Annual Award nearly every year from 1993 until his death. In the Northwest he served as Artistic Director of Chamber Music at Port Townsend for twenty-five years and, together with his wife, pianist Willa Doppmann, was co-founder of Tacoma’s Second City Chamber Series.

Mr. Doppmann made recordings for Nonesuch, Delos, Finland’s Kuhmo Festival Recordings, and Albany Recordings. Praise for Four American Piano Sonatas, released by Equilibrium Recordings in 1999, was widespread and was typified by Stuart Hamilton s (CBC) comment: “The performance is profoundly musical, the virtuosity stupefying.”

Mr. Doppmann most recently appeared in recital on the Second City Chamber Series in November, 2011. He passed away from complications of cancer on January 28, 2013 on the island of Hawai’i in the company of his beloved wife, Willa, and their son, Greg.

The Second City Chamber Series honored William “Skip” Doppmann during the 2013-2014 Season with two recitals in the Spotlight Series entitled “Doppmann the Pianist” and “Doppmann the Composer.”

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