Marylynn Boris has served for several years as a community member on the Concord Orchestra Board. I asked her if she would write about her work with the orchestra from a supporter’s point of view.
Thoughts on the importance of our community orchestra
by Marylynn Boris
Music has always been a deeply important part of my life. I began to take piano lessons at age 6 and then switched to violin. In middle school I was very active as concert master of the orchestra and, in singing, a happy member of a girls’ Madrigal group. In high school I switched back to piano and for two years took ‘swing piano’, where I learned how to put the bass rhythm and chords to all the pop songs of the day. Then I went back to classical, attempting Beethoven, Scarlatti, Chopin and others. It was then that I began to listen seriously to classical music and purchase my favorite recordings. Living near Chicago I could attend concerts by the Chicago Symphony and by world-renowned pianists. At Brown University I spent four years singing with the Brown-Pembroke Chorus and I’ve been singing ever since with various groups, most recently with the Belmont-Arlington Chorale.
When Peter Grad and I moved to Concord almost 26 years ago, we began attending the Concord Orchestra concerts and have been doing so ever since. We were impressed by how the orchestra, under Dick Pittman’s direction, gave fresh presentations of the major symphonies, from Beethoven to Bruckner, but also introduced new contemporary works with the same freshness and skill. When I was asked to be the representative from the community on the orchestra’s Board I was delighted. As community member my job was to solicit and organize people in the community to help with each concert—distributing flyers, taking tickets, ushering, and running the reception after the concert. I was especially pleased that I could help select a paid manager, a new position for the orchestra, who could relieve the musicians making up the Board of the responsibilities of putting on each concert. After all, they had to prepare and play the music! I became so aware of how much effort it takes to organize and present five concerts a year, of such high quality, and still keep admission prices reasonable. It means that contributions from the public and other means of raising money—auctions, benefit concerts—are key to keeping the whole enterprise going.
To me supporting a community orchestra as good as the Concord Orchestra means that classical music can be available to so many people who might not be able to afford the time and expense of going into Boston. I kept an article from The Boston Musical Intelligencer, the online journal which lists almost all of the concerts offered in the area, because it was so apt. It summed up the orchestra’s contribution in a review of a 2011 concert that featured a “magnificent” and only recently rediscovered cello concerto by Gunther Schuller, a renowned Boston composer. “The Concord Orchestra,” it said, “mainly consists of serious musicians whose life path diverged from music as a career, but whose enthusiasm and delight in playing is undiminished. Under Pittman’s leadership their performances are consistently delightful….the orchestra rose to the occasion with Schuller’s concerto, and according to Schuller gave it its best performance to date.”
Music, of all the arts, is to me the one that touches us most deeply; beyond words and the graphic arts it reaches our deepest feelings of joy and sorrow and gives expression to them.
Having a community orchestra benefits not only us concert-goers but also provides an opportunity for the musicians themselves to offer their skill and creativity to the public. I urge others to see how they can become involved in providing support, through donating their time and dollars, to an orchestra that has served our community so well for over 50 years.