The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


January 26, 2014

And the band plays on | Symphony seeks support of music lovers

JOHNSTOWN — Our city and our region have problems. We all know it.

From a struggling economy to a perceived lack of effective leadership to drug and crime problems, there are many issues that we hear about from readers on a regular basis.

We understand that there often is a feeling of negativity from some local residents.

But there are also some wonderfully positive aspects to living in our region, and high on that list is the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra. We are so fortunate to have the JSO in our backyard.

Maestro Istvan Jaray and his orchestra are a true treasure for Johnstown.

“Johnstown Symphony Or­chestra is an absolute jewel,” said Marty Radovanic, a WJAC-TV news anchor who hosted the launch of the orchestra’s annual fund drive. “They’re all professional musicians, but they have other jobs. It costs money to run an organization like this, and every year the community comes through.”

We’ve already seen once last week how a lack of support can spell doom for a local asset, as the Windber Coal Heritage Center closed amid declining attendance numbers. We cannot let the same happen to the orchestra.

That’s not to say that the orchestra is in financial danger, just a reminder that a once-thriving cultural group can disappear quickly when its funding dries up.

The JSO is looking to raise $110,000 in 2014, according to Karen Azer, the fund-drive’s co-chairwoman.

“Orchestras across the nation are struggling to survive, but I’m confident we can reach our goal,” Azer told our Ruth Rice. “No gift is too small. The symphony has enriched our lives in so many ways. Johnstown is fortunate to have maestro and the musicians. They have the quality of a large metropolitan orchestra.”

That is what makes the JSO so impressive. Despite a rapidly declining population, Johnstown continues to have an orchestra that rivals those found in much larger cities. To have such a high-quality organization is a real feather in Johns-town’s collective cap.

Glenn Wilson, president and CEO of AmeriServ Financial, which is a leadership sponsor for 2014, stressed the need to support the orchestra.

“I feel it’s important,” Wilson said. “The symphony is a gem. It has to have support to continue. We have to make it happen.”

We urge the music lovers of our region to support the symphony by calling 535-6748 or by making a donation online at

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