Rochester, NY; April 24, 2006 –The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra will recognize the contributions of its volunteers on Wednesday, April 26 at 7 p.m. at the Hochstein School of Music and Dance. Awards will be presented by RPO Board Chairperson Ingrid Stanlis to 13 individuals in honor of their outstanding service to the RPO during the past year. The RPO relies on volunteers for a number of activities, including office staff support, ushering at concerts and working on special events, and volunteers annually contribute approximately 25,000 hours of their time to the Orchestra.
In addition to the presentation of the awards, the program for the evening, entitled “Back-Stage Stories,” will feature Andrew Cassano, the RPO’s new Director of Artistic Operations. He will be discussing the process involved in programming and producing a concert, as well as sharing what it’s like to work with artists both on and off stage. Music will be provided by the Cello Divas, an ensemble comprised of Melissa Burton, Rosemary Elliott, Mimi Hwang and Ingrid Bock Yang.
The honorees are:
• Youth Volunteers of the Year: Elizabeth Schake (Churchville) – Miss Schake has volunteered as a student usher at concerts for the last three years. Although she sometimes has had to make sacrifices to fulfill her volunteer commitment, Miss Schake cheerfully notes, “When I leave the theatre after a concert I always have a smile on my face.”
• Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra Volunteer of the Year: Jessica Schuster (Rochester) – Ms. Schuster has been active in the RPYO for the past four years. She has served as the Parent Advisory Committee Chair, a member of the Development Committee and Tour Committee and as an editor for the RPYO Newsletter. Ms. Schuster is grateful for all the RPYO has given her family, and says, “Devoting my time to RPYO is more than volunteer work; it is a family project which hopefully serves to enrich the entire orchestra’s experience.”
• RPO Musician Volunteer Award: Ellen Rathjen (Rochester) – Ms. Rathjen has been a member of the RPO violin section since 1970, and has served on the Volunteer Committee, Orchestra Committee and Audition Committee. In addition to her duties as a violinist in the orchestra, Ms. Rathjen also volunteers her time in chamber ensembles. She has worked at the Hochstein School of Music and Dance as well as with RPYO ensembles.
• Ushers of the Year: Katherine and Fredric Powell (Brockport) – Mr. and Mrs. Powell have volunteered their time with the RPO for the past five years. In addition to her commitment as an usher, Mrs. Powell has also served as a Symphony Showhouse Guide and helped with the Casual Sunday Matinee Bagel Brunch. Mr. Powell has graciously donated his time as an usher, Assistant to the House Manager, Chair of the Bagel Brunch Committee and Symphony Showhouse Guide. The Powells say: “In all of these activities, the opportunity to meet and interact with concert patrons, RPO staff and other volunteers has been very rewarding. Volunteering at the RPO has brought us many new friendships.”
• Education Department Volunteer of the Year: Jack Langerak (Penfield) – Mr. Langerak first came to the RPO twelve years ago as a member of the Orchestra’s Education & Outreach Committee. His experience as a high school English and Theatre teacher led him to help create a four-year programming cycle that the RPO still uses for their High School Concerts. “Working with Michael Butterman, Adrienne Valencia (the RPO’s wonderful Director of Education and Outreach) and the rest of the committee is very special,” he said. “It is an honor to work with folks who have such a great sense of mission.”
• Rochester Philharmonic League Volunteer Award: Carlotta Lustik (Rochester) – Ms. Lustik has served as Treasurer of the Rochester Philharmonic League for the past seven years. She has also worked on the Symphony Showhouse Committee for three years. Of all her duties, Ms. Lustik especially loves volunteering as an escort for the children’s intermediate concerts at Eastman Theatre.
• Special Events Volunteer of the Year: David Ackroyd (Fairport) – Mr. Ackroyd’s service to the RPO began in 2001 when he co-chaired the silent auction for the Valentine’s Day Gala. Since then he has volunteered as the Symphony Showhouse Co-Chair and “Music in an Asian Garden” Chair. He has been the Co-Facilitator for the RPO Leadership Training classes for the past three years. Mr. Ackroyd is a member of the RPO Board of Directors and serves as the Chair of their Education & Outreach Committee as well as the Chair for the RPYO’s Board of Directors. He says, “Being an RPO volunteer provides me with the opportunity to lend my time and talents to the cultural gem of the Greater Rochester area.”
• General Office Volunteer of the Year: Kathleen Holt (Rochester) – Ms. Holt has volunteered at the RPO since 1994 in the Education and Development Departments. She has also been involved in various volunteer outreach activities and is currently the Chair of the Archives Committee, which is reviewing and cataloguing materials from all periods in the Orchestra’s 83-year history. Ms. Holt describes her service to the RPO as “one small thing I can do to help keep orchestral music alive and vibrant in our community.”
• Major Gifts Campaign Volunteer of the Year: James Koller (Rochester) – Dr. Koller has volunteered his time with the RPO for the past 19 years and is a member of the RPO’s Honorary Board. He has worked on the Annual Campaign since 1988 and was the Acting Director of Development for six months in 1993. “The RPO is one of our finest community assets and I feel that anything I can do to preserve and enhance it is time and energy well spent,” Dr. Koller said.
• Community Partnership Award: William Toomey of Current Service (Rochester) – Mr. Toomey volunteered his time and services as an electrician for the RPO’s signature fundraising event, Symphony Showhouse, in 2004 and 2006. He specializes in electrical work for older homes, a unique skill that is important to the numerous interior designers who create spaces within the Symphony Showhouses. He said, “Working with the RPO, I have enjoyed meeting new people and solving new – and sometimes complicated – challenges.”
• Board of Directors Volunteer Award: Jay Friedman (Pittsford) – Mr. Friedman has been fundraising on behalf of the RPO for decades and has been a Finance Committee member for ten years. He is in his eleventh year as a member of the Board of Directors, and said: “I believe that the RPO and music in Rochester are a critical part of the enrichment of our community. The enjoyment that I receive from the RPO adds an immeasurable amount to the happiness of my life.”
• The Ambassador’s Award: Josephine Perini (Rochester) – Ms. Perini has been volunteering at the RPO since her arrival in Rochester in 1967. In addition to many other roles, she has been an usher for more than thirty years. She has lent her time and talents to make several events a success including Symphony Showhouse, the RPO Golf Tournament, Barnsale, the Instrument Petting Zoo and Breakfast with the Conductor. In 2005 she received the “Mayor’s Renaissance Award” for outstanding service to the community. Ms. Perini said, “For me being an RPO volunteer is to sincerely believe in the vision George Eastman had in 1922, that is, to enrich and inspire the Rochester community through the art of music.”
The RPO Volunteer Enrichment and Recognition Program strives to provide an informal, inclusive atmosphere that will encourage volunteers to accept a real sense of ownership in the RPO and become enlightened ambassadors for the RPO to the greater Rochester community.
Celebrating its 83rd season in 2005-06, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s mission is to perform and present a broad range of quality music; attract, entertain and educate audiences with superior musical performances; maintain and build the Orchestra’s national reputation; and enhance the reputation of the Rochester community as a place in which to live, work, play, visit and learn.