Meet the Willers

Many parents can relate to the feeling of seeing their children perform. Whether in their first school concert, as they grow through high school in band, choir or theater, and sometimes even beyond – as is the case with Janice and Carrie Willer.

“(My passion for the arts) goes back to when I was a little girl,” Janice said. “My mother supported and valued the arts and growing up after World War II money was tight when I was a child, yet our mother found a way to allow me to take piano lessons, my older brother took accordion lessons and my sister was given dance lessons. When Carrie started learning how to play cello in the third grade, it really became a feature of our lives. We spent time supporting her interest with lessons, concerts and camps. At that time, Appleton didn’t have a performing arts facility so attending an event was difficult.”

“My mother loved the arts and it was promoted in our home,” added Dr. Carrie Willer, who has now been a member of the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra for 18 years, after playing in youth symphonies and studying cello at the Lawrence Academy of Music, where she now teaches.

“I guess you could say that I have been with the Symphony and the Academy of Music for about thirty years,” Carrie said. “I studied music and education at UW Madison and have had the honor of playing with most of the symphonies in Wisconsin, including the previous Green Bay Symphony before it closed.”

That’s what brought her mother Janice to the Fox Cities P.A.C. for the first time.

“It was such a beautiful facility that I bought season tickets,” Janice explained, “and then wanted to show my support for the Fox Cities P.A.C. and arts community by becoming an Annual Partner.”
Since 2012, Carrie has gifted the Annual Partnership to her mother for her birthday each year. The two also enjoy performances that they can share together as Broadway Season Ticket Holders and beyond, including favorites like The Lion King, Brian Setzer Orchestra and War Horse.
“It is something we both enjoy and can spend treasured time together.  We look forward to our time together at the Fox Cities P.A.C., and we enjoy getting to know the staff and volunteers that make the shows possible,” Janice said.  “By being an Annual Partner we get to meet the staff and we appreciate the welcoming and kind atmosphere they create at the shows and special events they sponsor.”
Now, they both look forward to another year of The Nutcracker, with Carrie playing cello.
“I enjoy performing at the Fox Cities P.A.C. and looking out in the audience or talking with guests before the show or at intermission. The musicians on stage are a close-knit group of people, and we spend a lot of time together, like a family. Music includes a lot of nonverbal communication, so being able to communicate without saying a word is special,” Carrie said. “I am also looking forward to seeing my students (from Franklin Elementary School, where she serves as principal) dance onstage and sing in the choir.  I love being connected to my community in this way and think that any time local arts groups can work together, it creates a dynamic experience.”
“If Carrie’s father was still with us today, he would be very proud of all of her accomplishments including with the Fox Valley Symphony and as an elementary principal,” Janice added.
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