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Local classical musicians mobilize to boost awareness and community commitment

Free benefit concert at Franke Park

By Jim Fester

Fort Wayne Reader


On August 11th, the Foellinger Theater will play host to a special free concert by the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Players Association to benefit Habitat For Humanity, the non-profit organization that builds and rehabilitates housing for families in need. There is no required admission for the concert, but free-will donations will be accepted at the door.

Aaron Copeleand’s “Fanfare of the Common Man” and Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony are the featured pieces for the first half of the concert. Lighter music follows in the second half, with Belle of the Ball by Leroy Anderson, Verdi’s Anvil Chorus, and Copeland’s Hoe-down. Fort Wayne vocalists Denise Lapsley (soloist from the Heartland Chamber Chorale) and Todd Prickett (director of choruses at IPFW) will also perform, singing duets from My Fair Lady and Simple Gifts.

Handling conductor duties for the concert will be David Cooke, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic’s principle trombonist David Cooke. A resident of Fort Wayne’s south side for 12 years, Cooke is enthusiastic about Habitat for Humanity’s work in the community. “I’ve seen first hand the positive effects from this excellent group right in my own neighborhood,” he says. “Those who live in Habitat homes are very responsible about maintaining the appearance of their houses years after the original construction.”

The Fort Wayne Philharmonic Player’s Association has performed several benefit concerts over the years. Their larger mission is to generally promote orchestral music in the greater Fort Wayne community in response to the widespread perception that symphonies across the United States are failing due to declining interest and funding.

“The message we often hear is that there is lagging interest in orchestral music, and it’s simply not true,” says Diane Dickson, media spokesperson of the FWPPA. “In fact, the American Symphony Orchestra League [ASOL] reports that, following a downturn attributed to September 11, operating revenues in the 2003-2004 season increased eight percent versus a seven percent increase in expenses.” The organization also reports that deficits have dropped on average: from 2.7% of total budgets in 2001-02, to 2.1% in 2002-03, to 1.1% in 2003-04.

“Orchestras of all sizes, in locations ranging from Phoenix to Austin to Milwaukee to Jacksonville are enjoying rising season subscription rates and single ticket sales,” Dickson adds. “Our orchestra has never been better musically, and we want to be the catalyst that renews the excitement here in northeast Indiana. We believe the Fort Wayne Philharmonic brings enormous cultural, economic and educational value to our community and our region.”

The FWPPA has embarked on a community-wide awareness endeavor to focus on the importance of vision and growth for the orchestra. “Our civic leaders are challenging Fort Wayne to revitalize itself through the nurturing of a creative-class economy, and we’re excited to be an integral part of that movement,” says Dickson.

“This will be a fun, family-friendly event, and we encourage everyone to come show their support for the great work of Habitat for Humanity,” says Cooke.

Benefit concert by the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Player’s Association
Foellinger Theater at Franke Park off Sherman Boulevard, next to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo
Thursday, August 11, 2005, at 7:00 p.m.
The concert is FREE, with all free-will donations given to Habitat for Humanity

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