The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


January 13, 2013

Symphony's mission is to enrich lives, share music with others

JOHNSTOWN — Johnstown Symphony Orchestra wants to share its music with those who don’t usually get to hear it and continue to enrich the lives of area young people with its educational programs.

The newly created share-the-music program allows corporations or individuals who sponsor concerts but are unable to use symphony tickets to donate them back to the orchestra.

The orchestra then will distribute the tickets to local social service agencies that request tickets at no cost.

Corporations or individuals also may donate money so tickets can be purchased and donated to the agencies.

Beginnings Inc., Alleghenies United Cerebral Palsy and The Learning Lamp have taken advantage of the program, said Brooke Welsh, the symphony’s executive director.

“We wanted to come up with a creative program to fill seats that were purchased by our sponsors but not being used,” she said.

“After identifying the mission of the program, we needed to come up with a name.”

Welsh decided to ask patrons to name the program through a contest on Facebook.

The winning name, JSO Share-the-Music Program, was submitted by Cheryl Bobkoskie Chandler, who won two free concert tickets for her idea.

“The title really exemplifies so much of what we believe here at the JSO, that music is an art form to be shared,” Welsh said. “We want all in our community to have the opportunity to enjoy this program.”

The symphony will continue to have free tickets available, based on sponsor and individual donations.

“We’re accepting donations from individuals who want to purchase tickets and donate them,” Welsh said.

Board president Bill Locher said the program is a new and fresh idea.

“We’re pleased to see that we’ve had some individuals from the board of trustees step forward and donate money toward this program as a way to allow those less fortunate to enjoy a nice evening out and the power of live music,” he said.

Johnstown Symphony Orchestra’s Young Artists Competition is open to musicians ages 16-23 who are residents or students in Cambria, Somerset, Blair, Bedford, Indiana or Westmoreland counties.

The 2012-13 competition was held Nov. 25 at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center in Richland Township.  

First-place winner Anthony Michael Cornet, who performed on piano, will perform with the symphony March 9 for the “Music in Pictures” concert, in addition to receiving a monetary award.

Other winners, chosen by Maestro Istvan Jaray and participating judges, who will receive monetary awards are Richard Firestone, alto saxophone, second place, and Samuel Schreiber, clarinet, third place.

“I am delighted that the jury chose Mr. Anthony Michael Cornet as the winner of this competition,” Jaray said. “It was not an easy decision because of the high artistic level of the other participants.

“In spite of his young age, Mr. Cornet is indeed an excellent, mature artist with a warm musicianship and an admirable talent.”

Cornet, who is originally from Altoona, is a graduate of Temple University’s Esther Boyer College of Music and Dance in Philadelphia.

He will perform Liszt’s “Totentanz” for piano and orchestra during the March 9 concert.

“I am very honored to have been chosen as this year’s winner,” Cornet said. “The opportunity to work alongside Maestro Jaray and the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra is one I will cherish forever.”     

Cornet is pursuing a master’s degree in piano performance at Duquesne University.

In addition to sharing its music, the symphony has various education programs to enrich the lives of area young people.

“We at the JSO believe the future of our orchestra is our young people,” Welsh said.

In 1958, Johnstown Symphony Youth Orchestra was established to give talented young musicians the opportunity to develop their potential.

The youth orchestra provides a professional atmosphere where young players gain a variety of experiences.

Semiannual concerts and concert tours to area schools to perform for their peers provide members with symphonic performance experiences.

The symphony presents at least two free young people’s concerts for area fifth-grade students every spring.

Welsh said this year’s concerts will be held at 9:30 and 10:45 a.m. March 26 at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center in Richland Township.

“We bus the students in, and we get quite a few,” she said. “We fill up the hall. We used to have three concerts, but need to secure funding for another.

“We’ve had to turn down schools, and we want all students to participate. Last year, we had a waiting list.”

Teachers interested in bringing students to the concerts should call the symphony office for information.

Symphony conductor Maestro Istvan Jaray may visit schools to give a presentation.

The symphony has two choruses to provide young children with opportunities to sing.

Inclined to Sing, for children in grades 5-9, is directed by Kim Rauch.

Children are invited to audition for this chorus, and boys’ voices should be unchanged.

Inclined to Sing’s Apprentice Choir is for children in kindergarten through grade 4.

No audition is necessary, but children should be musically inclined.

This choir is directed by Andrea Berresford Mulligan.

Rehearsals for both choirs are held on Tuesdays at Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, 1000 Scalp Ave., Johnstown.

The apprentice choir meets at 4:30 p.m., and Inclined to Sing meets at 5:30.

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