Johnstown Symphony Orchestra announces 2019 fund drive with great fanfare

January 30, 2019

Blending the muffled sounds of machinery in motion with a brass quintet performing an original fanfare, the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra opened its 2019 fund drive Tuesday inside JWF Industries along Iron Street in Johnstown.

The massive manufacturing space, once part of the city’s historic steelmaking past, was also announced as the next location for the orchestra’s annual Mill Concert this fall.

“(This company) represents the history of Johnstown and the future,” said James Blachly, the orchestra’s music director. “We are especially excited to be here today, and grateful to know that we will be in one of these buildings for our Mill Concert this fall.

“This press conference is an example of what we have decided to do as a symphony since I became music director. In short, we want to invite the city to the symphony — make sure everyone feels welcome — and we also want to bring the symphony to the city. That’s what we’re doing right now.”

Karen Azer, development chair for the orchestra’s board of trustees and co-chair of the 2019 fund drive, said the fundraising campaign ties into the observance of the symphony’s 90th anniversary this year.

“The JSO’s 90th anniversary is focusing on a ‘90 for 90’ campaign, in conjunction with our annual fund campaign,” she said. “There are two main goals, to obtain 90 new donors and encourage our current donors to increase their annual gift by $90 or more. All new donors and donors who increase their contribution by $90 or more will be eligible to win two premium season tickets to the 2019-2020 concert (series). There will be a drawing taking place on Sept. 30, and they will have their names noted in the concert program as a ‘90 for 90’ donor for the 2019-2020 season.”

Ticket sales cover less than 20 percent of the symphony’s operating costs each year, so financial support from businesses and residents is the foundation of the orchestra’s livelihood and the educational programs it supports, Azer said.

“The community’s continued support is vital to the success of the campaign and to the financial stability of the orchestra,” she said. “This will help to ensure the orchestra will be here to celebrate its 100th anniversary.”

The orchestra’s board of trustees has pledged over $23,000 toward the campaign’s goal of $130,000, Azer said. A $10,000 contribution was also made on behalf of Concurrent Technologies Corp. and its affiliates by fund drive co-chair Ed Sheehan, president and CEO of CTC.

“It’s really important that we support our symphony,” he said. “It’s very important to the community and to the quality of life that all of us enjoy.

“I do want to encourage you to get the word out to people . . . we really want to encourage everybody to participate, help to make this a successful season. It’s our 90th, that’s a big deal.”

Azer and Sheehan stressed that donations of any amount are welcome, and that contributions can be made in monthly or quarterly installments as well as one-time gifts.

At the conclusion of his remarks, Blachly announced that he composed a piece of music titled “90th Anniversary Fanfare” for Tuesday’s event, in honor of the orchestra’s anniversary. He said that prior to becoming the orchestra’s music director, he had also been a composer, writing about 45 pieces of music.

He then conducted a brass quintet of musicians from the orchestra in playing the fanfare for the first time in public.

“We needed just the right piece for this occasion,” Blachly said. “We wanted to show the excitement and energy we have as an orchestra, and we wanted to perform a piece that would match the building. It made sense to have a new composition, and since I’m a composer, I can make that happen. So I thought I would spark the generosity of the annual fund campaign by giving something to the symphony of myself.”

The fanfare piece will likely be played at the Fourth of July concert and on possibly another occasion, he said.

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