Libby Watson, Executive Director of the Adrian Symphony Orchestra, graced our stage today and began by thanking our club for all we do to make this community a better place to live, for our continued support of the ASO and the opportunity she and each of the four conductor finalist candidates had to visit our club last year.
Libby said that the ASO resides on the campus of Adrian College and that all proceeds generated from their concerts go toward “making art”. All ASO musicians are professional musicians yet have day jobs and come from a radius of 100 miles due to the challenge of the music played and the fact that rehearsals for each concert take place just the week prior to the concert. Orchestra members often times play for other orchestras as well throughout the year, she said.
A typical concert costs approximately $20,000 to present. The ASO is supported by ticket sales, individual contributions, sponsorships, ads, and subsidies from the State of Michigan as well as the National Center for the Arts. Having a symphony in Adrian, Libby said, increases civic pride, brings our community together, and attracts people to our community. It has a huge social impact fostering cohesion, reducing poverty, etc.
The search for a new conductor to replace John Thomas Dotson last year took many months, Libby said. Of the 140 candidates who submitted resumes, Bruce Kiesling from LA was chosen. He travels to Adrian the week before every concert to rehearse with the musicians. He is also serves as the conductor of the Tulare Symphony Orchestra in California where he lives. He also teaches music at UCLA. Incidentally, our own Mike Olsaver is the ASO’s board chair and Gerry Burg is a board member as well.
Libby couldn’t say enough about Leah Crocetto, an Adrian native who attended LCS and Siena Heights University. At 16 years of age she won the ASO’s Young Musician Contest and has performed with them nine separate times since! She now works for one of the top management agencies in the world – CAMI – based in New York City. She has sung with the Metropolitan Opera and at the Kennedy Center. She has a performance on April 28th here in Adrian with accomplished pianist Mark Markham.
The ASO, Libby concluded, wants to be a leader of art education in this community and with children particularly since they have so many skills. Among the programs offered are: their “Music Moves Me” – held at local area libraries with a song leader which is free of charge; their instrument “Petting Zoo” which gives children an opportunity to explore various instruments; their “Link-Up” program in partnership with Carnegie Hall where kids actually play along with the orchestra and leave with a free workbook and their teacher with a free Teacher’s Guide! May 9th is their next opportunity. Please contact the ASO for more information. Thanks, Libby, for a wonderful presentation!