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15th Annual RPO Volunteer of the Year Awards Honor Generosity and Hard Work

May 04, 2007

Rochester, NY – Fourteen individuals in the Rochester area community who give generously of their time and hard work to the numerous efforts of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra will be honored on Monday night, May 7 at the 15th Annual RPO Volunteer of the Year Awards at 7 p.m. at the Hochstein School of Music.  These awards recognize people who support the RPO with time and resources to help the Orchestra realize its goals.  Individuals were nominated by RPO staff and volunteer peers, and selected by the Volunteer Services Committee of the RPO.

In addition to the award presentations, the evening’s program will examine “Orchestra Auditions vs. the Solo Competition: What Judges are Looking For,” moderated by RPO Music Director Christopher Seaman.  The panel of musicians include John Beck, professor of percussion at the Eastman School of Music and retired RPO principal timpani; Barry Synder, triple prize-winner of the 1966 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and professor of piano at the Eastman School; and Zvi Zeitlin, distinguished professor of violin at the Eastman School and adjudicator for numerous competitions including Montreal, Indianapolis, John D. Rockefeller and the Concert Artists Guild.

The 2007 volunteer honorees are:

  • General Office Volunteer: Naomi Schrier (Rochester/Brighton) – Working in the events office, Naomi recruits volunteer teams for routine clerical services needed by the RPO, and twice has served as chair of Symphony Showhouse staffing, helping to train 500 hosts to work during the three-week long fundraiser.
  • RPO Musician Volunteer: Nancy Hunt (Penfield) – RPO violinist, Nancy has served for nearly 15 years as a member of the Musicians Educator Award Committee, including terms as secretary and chair. She also has served on the RPYO Board, and is a string methods teacher to young music educators in training at Nazareth College.
  • Usher of the Year Volunteer: Jim Friedland (Fairport) – With 20 years performing a variety of services to the RPO, Jim is being recognized for his work as a tireless ticket-taker and an Alternate House Assistant for the past three years.
  • Special Events Volunteer: Sam Malone (Marion) – Sam has worked on the past three Symphony Showhouses, and last year became chair of the designer logistics committee. He also has used his considerable photographic and editorial talents for the Showhouse program book, sponsor presentations and the web site.
  • Youth Volunteer: Matthew Andrews (Pittsford) – A junior at McQuaid Jesuit High School where he is an honor student and Captain of the JV Lacrosse Team, Matt has found time to usher with the RPO. This award recognizes his professionalism and commitment to the Orchestra.
  • Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra Volunteer: Mike Laird (Pittsford) – Nominated unanimously, Mike has been RPYO treasurer for three years, this year overseeing the tour accounts and fundraising for the demanding Central European tour. Michael is a retired VP of Software Development at Xerox.
  • Education Department Volunteer: Katherine Schumacher (Rochester) – Although Katherine has given more than 35 years of volunteer service to the RPO, this honor recognizes her work on the Education Committee. Doing her own “personal outreach,” she regularly brings new friends to hear the RPO in its many community settings.
  • Fundraising Volunteer: Marshall Tyler (Rochester) – In the area of direct fundraising, Marshall has been a successful solicitor for Major Gifts to the Annual Campaign for more than 10 years. Marshall uses his charming and efficient nature to inspire others with courtesy and good cheer.
  • Board Volunteer: David Schraver (Rochester) – David has served on the RPO Board since 2001, chairs the Governance Committee, has served on the Strategic Oversight Committee and is Board Secretary. He also has reviewed the numerous contracts for the last few Symphony Showhouses.
  • Community Partnership Volunteer: Greg Smith and Jay Advertising – In 2006, Greg put the power of Jay Advertising behind the Symphony Showhouse. The “Symphony on the Erie” was Greg’s brainchild, as was the idea for an internationally-known artist to capture the concert live on canvas. In addition, Greg and Jay Advertising have been instrumental in garnering support for the RPO by some of their own clients.
  • Rochester Philharmonic League Volunteer: Ed Esmay (Rochester) – Ed joins those who have won RPO volunteer awards in more than one category. For 15 years, Ed has directed the considerable bus traffic, students and bus drivers during the Intermediate Concerts on behalf of the League.
  • Ambassador Award: Gerald and Sandy Maar (Brockport) – This award was created to recognize those who enhance the RPO experience in the eyes of the public beyond the Orchestra, staff and volunteers.  In their many volunteer positions – substitute House Managers, ticket-takers, ushers, and work at the galas, golf tournaments and Showhouses, the Maars bring enthusiasm, fun and a contagious confidence in the RPO.
  • Baton of Distinction (new award this year):  Jon Schumacher (Rochester) – Jon has been a constant and consistent volunteer with the RPO since joining the Nixon Peabody law firm in 1964. Jon has been involved with every Annual Campaign, was elected to the Honorary Board, co-chaired the New Century Endowment Campaign which just met its goal and has served on numerous other committees. Jon calls his work to help ensure the financial security of the Orchestra as “entirely energizing and rewarding.”

The RPO relies on the commitment of its more than 850 volunteers who last year donated nearly 40,000 hours of their time to the many RPO activities including office staff support, special events, ushering, education, community partnerships, fundraising and more.  “2007 marks the 15th year to formally recognize the amazing contributions of our RPO volunteers,” says RPO’s Manager of Volunteers and Special Events, Marilyn Merrigan. “Those receiving recognition range in age from 15 to the 85, from attorney to marketing agency principal to homemaker, and represent a microcosm of the diversity of the individuals whose united goal is presenting great music to the community.”

Now in its 84th season, the RPO inspires and enriches the community through the art of music. The Orchestra is passionately dedicated to outstanding musical performance at the highest artistic levels, and has a unique tradition of musical versatility, commitment to music education in the broadest sense and a deep and enduring engagement with the community.  The RPO has been honored with the New York State Governor’s Arts Award, and two recent ASCAP awards for adventurous programming.



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