CWSO executive director Ann Huntoon and I wanted to connect the sister arts – musical and visual – while adding venue opportunities for Symphony members and advanced students and another dimension for visitors to Thursday evening Museum hours during Birds in Art.
Ann and I quickly learned that our professional lives crisscross in a number of interesting ways:
- Acclaimed saxophonist and Northwestern University emeritus professor Fred Hemke is a mutual friend as well as mentor to Ann’s husband, David Hastings.
- We share a goal to make a positive impact on the lives of those who call Central Wisconsin “home” by making arts programming of the highest quality accessible to all.
- We’re both engaged in and committed to the work of Arts Wisconsin – the state’s arts advocacy organization – and support the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s cultural tourism push.
In the small world of things, Ann, Woodson Art Museum marketing and communications manager Amy Beck, and I were chatting at the 2014 Governor’s Conference on Tourism in March. Ann mentioned a looming deadline to raise the last of the funds needed to allow the CWSO to purchase a long-needed concert grand piano. I was deeply touched by Ann’s passion and pride and promised to help with a modest contribution.
Fast forward to last Wednesday evening. I was among sixty or so individuals who had the pleasure and privilege of “welcoming” the CWSO’s Yamaha CFIII nine-foot concert grand piano to the Theater @1800. It was a remarkable and poignant evening on the Theater stage encircling the piano. University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point visiting professor of piano Stijn De Cock appeared to play each of the eighty-eight keys simultaneously as he masterfully treated the audience to Franz Liszt’s “Totentanz.” Stevens Point native and UWSP alumnus Danny Mitchell – a jazz pianist, singer, composer, and songwriter now based in Nashville – demonstrated not only the piano’s range, but also his considerable talents.
I’ll long remember this evening. The interconnectedness that brought me and Ann together continues to delight as the many and varied partnership dividends play on.
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