KSU Orchestra Society celebrated its 50th anniversary at this year’s ‘Evening with the Orchestra’

Moema Furtado, College of the Arts Dean Diane Petrella, Associate Dean Marie Bukowski, School of Music Director Kent McWilliams, KSU President Todd Diacon at the "Evening With the Orchestra" event. Photo courtesy of Dr. Larry Andrews

After a two-year hiatus during the pandemic, nearly 340 community residents, faculty and musicians of Kent State University gathered for a gala evening of fun and fundraising — the 45th “Evening with the Orchestra,” which benefits the students in the KSU Orchestra at the Hugh A. Glauser School of Music.

Guests were pleased to enjoy once again a night of good food, conversation and stirring music. The event, held in the ballroom of the Kent Student Center on Saturday, April 9, was hosted by the KSU Orchestra Society, celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Dr. Donald and Sue Hassler, David Hassler, Janet Walker

Following a social hour and dinner, Dr. Larry Andrews, President of the Orchestra Society, welcomed the gathering, recognized the Orchestra Society Board of Directors, honored the passing of charter member Germaine Williams and thanked all donors to the scholarship fund. Dr. Kent McWilliams, Director of the School of Music, introduced special guests and music faculty members. 

Orchestra Director Dr. Jungho Kim designed a lively musical program that opened with two Slavonic Dances by Dvorák. Director Kim then turned the podium over to Graduate Assistant Conductor Nicholas Bromilow, who conducted four of Elgar’s “Enigma Variations,” Smetana’s “Vltava” (“The Moldau”), and Beethoven’s “Creatures of Prometheus” overture.

Graduate Assistant Conductor Nicholas Bromilow, Guest Conductor David Dix, Orchestra Director Dr. Jungho Kim

Orchestra Society Vice-President Janet Session presented the Leopold Sipe Award for outstanding musicianship and overall contribution to the orchestra to violinist Laura McLaughlin. Sipe was Director of the KSU Orchestra in the 1970s and was one of the founders of the Society. This award has been presented each year since 1993.

A highlight of the evening was guest conductor David Dix’s rendering of Rossini’s “William Tell” overture. Confusion reigned when Dr. Kim began the piece instead, but just when the fast “Lone Ranger” music was about to begin, Mr. Dix came onstage and shooed away Dr. Kim, to much laughter from the audience. 

Mr. Dix had won the previous Conduct-the-Orchestra Auction for the second time. The auction for next year’s guest conductor was then led by auctioneer and Director of the School of Theatre and Dance Eric van Baars. After spirited bidding, the privilege was won by Graham Wood with a record-setting bid. Mr. van Baars had the 45 orchestra members with Orchestra Society scholarships stand, and several offered testimonials about the impact of their scholarships. Mr. van Baars then called for scholarship sponsorships from audience members, again with record responses.

Margot Milcetich, Philip and Janice Westerman, Jon Stone, Nancy Stillwagon

For the final piece, Dr. Kim returned to the podium for a moving performance of Sibelius’s “Finlandia.” 

Students from the Delta Omicron chapter provided coat check service, and a jazz quartet, under the leadership of Jonah Ferguson, offered jazz music during the social hour. The evening generated over $50,000 in scholarship funds for next year.

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