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Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Notes the Passing of Orchestra Supporter Alfred L. Davis

May 28, 2008

Rochester, NY – It is with much sadness that the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra notes the passing today of Alfred L. Davis, Honorary Board Member and one of the RPO’s most generous and philanthropic supporters.

“I feel his loss very keenly – we all do,” said RPO Music Director Christopher Seaman from his home in Scotland.  “He was someone who truly loved the Orchestra, loved music, and saw it as his mission to enable us to turn our dreams into reality.  Al was not an attention-seeker; he was a real gentleman and a wonderful example of someone whose heart is in the right place. His integrity was matched by his extraordinary generosity.”

“On behalf of the entire RPO family,” Christopher Seaman said, “we all are grateful to have known Al Davis and to have received the benefits of his generosity.  We cherish his memory as a true example of humanity.”

Mr. Davis first came to the attention of the RPO when he offered to underwrite the appearance of 1997 Van Cliburn Gold Medal winner, pianist Jon Nakamatsu, after having seen the pianist win the competition.  It was to be the beginning of a remarkable relationship among the RPO, Mr. Davis and Mr. Nakamatsu.  The pianist’s subsequent concerts in January 1999 were some of the best-attended Philharmonics Series events of the time.  In addition to underwriting Mr. Nakamatsu’s fee, Mr. Davis also made it possible for young piano students to attend this concert free of charge with their piano teachers. 

Since that time, Mr. Nakamatsu has made numerous appearances with the RPO, including two recordings on the harmonia mundi usa label made possible by Davis’ support – the RPO’s 2001 all-Rachmaninoff CD with Nakamatsu and Christopher Seaman, and the second, the all-Gershwin recording with Jeff Tyzik and the RPO in May 2007.  The Gershwin recording was made possible by Al Davis’ generous financial support of ninety thousand dollars in celebration of his 90th birthday in March 2006.  The CD was a record-setting one for the Orchestra, receiving international praise and recognition, and making it to #3 of the Billboard Classical Music charts, where it remained for more than 30 weeks in 2007.

Al Davis was innovative in his gifts to benefit the RPO not only in the present, but also in the future.  He established the Alfred Davis and Brunhilde Knapp Artists Performance Fund, which assures that young artists, especially pianists and Van Cliburn medalists, will each year have at least one opportunity to appear with the RPO on its Philharmonics Series.  Through the RPO Steinway Piano Fund, Al also made it possible for the RPO to replace its 12-year old Steinway concert grand piano which was in desperate need of a complete overhaul or replacement, and established a fund from which the interest could be used in the future to replace this very important instrument when necessary.  The new piano and replacement fund were established in honor of Jon Nakamatsu.

More recently, Al Davis established two new endowment funds.  The William L Cahn Fund honors former RPO percussionist Bill Cahn for his youth music education advocacy and supports the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.  The second, the Margaret Welcher Davis Professional Development Fund, provides funding for RPO staff members to continue their professional development.

In recognition of Al Davis’ extraordinary contributions, he was honored with the 2003 Rochester Area Community Foundation Philanthropy Award and the 2005 Arts & Cultural Council Arts Award.  Mr. Davis served on the RPO’s Board of Directors from 2001-2003, becoming an Honorary Board member in 2004. 



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