It was a night of good food, conversation, and rousing music for the nearly 400 community residents, faculty, and musicians of Kent State University who gathered for the gala evening of fun and fundraising — the 43rd annual Evening with the Orchestra, which benefits students in the KSU Orchestra at the Hugh A. Glauser School of Music. The event, held in the ballroom of the Kent Student Center, was hosted by the KSU Orchestra Society.
Dr. Larry Andrews, President of the Orchestra Society, welcomed the gathering, recognized the Orchestra Society Board of Directors, and thanked all donors to the scholarship fund. Dr. Jane Dressler, Interim Director of the School of Music, introduced special guests and music faculty members, and recognized the retirement of Frank Wiley, a former director of the orchestra for 14 years. John Crawford-Spinelli, Dean of the College of the Arts, expressed gratitude to the Orchestra Society and announced the new Director of the School of Music arriving in the fall.
Orchestra Director Dr. Jungho Kim designed a musical program that opened with the Overture to Strauss’s "Die Fledermaus" and the Nimrod variation from Elgar’s "Enigma Variations." Director Kim then recognized the 16 orchestra members supported by Orchestra Society scholarships, including the holders of the five endowed chairs.
A performance of Sibelius’s "Finlandia" led to the presentation, by Dr. Andrews, of the Leopold Sipe Award for outstanding musicianship and overall contribution to the orchestra. This year’s winner was graduate student bassoonist Zach Elmore. 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 Carol Gould’s rendering of Rossini’s "William Tell Overture." Gould had won last year’s bid in the annual Conduct-the-Orchestra Auction, and this was her second appearance on the podium. The auction for next year’s guest conductor was led by professional auctioneer Sage Lewis and won by Dr. Saroj Sutaria, Associate Professor Emeritus of Special Education. Lewis touted the hard-working, talented musicians and then called for scholarship offers. Seventeen audience members volunteered a total of $13,850 in new scholarships.
For the final piece, KSU Jazz Orchestra Director Bobby Selvaggio conducted both his group and the orchestra in an arrangement of a Scriabin Prelude for combined forces. The Jazz Orchestra completed the evening with big-band music for dancing.