I met Valerie and John Gibbs at my home recital in May. They have shown a great deal of passion and determination to help the musicians of the Columbus Symphony continue to make music. And they have sought to keep an even keel in public perception of the ongoing saga of the Symphony, its history and outcome. To that end, Valerie and others composed this wonderful letter to the members of the Women's Association of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (WACSO).
Dear fellow WACSO member, July 4. 2008
We all know that we are at a critical moment in the life of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra that we love so much.
We have very few constructive options that could lead to the continuing life of the symphony—and very little time.
While we are not, nor can we be, part of the negotiations, we can do three things---get accurate information about the past and present situation; write to civic leaders like Mayor Coleman, Governor Strickland, President Gee of The Ohio State University; and publicize, attend and support upcoming musicians' concerts—and urge our friends to do these three things.
The time to act on behalf of keeping our symphony alive is now. We have our four Youth orchestras and all the students and schools they represent hanging in the balance as well.
We may not all be aware that as of the beginning of June the musicians pay has been ended; moreover, their insurance, including their health benefits, have been cut off as of July first. One way we can support them right now is to go to a website that features upcoming concerts. By our attendance, and donations, we can give them our direct support. Their new website is The Musicians of the Columbus Symphony.
If our symphony orchestra is silenced, look at what our capital city is about to lose:
-The cultural, educational and musical life-blood of our city that brings an unparalled joy into our lives, and into the lives of future generations.
-An attraction to keep and to draw high-quality businesses in and to our area.
-Some of the finest orchestra musicians anywhere—some of whom have already left their local students as well as this ensemble behind in search of more secure employment—who have spent years together building up our symphony to its emerging world class status.
-The reason to stay involved in Columbus for Junichi Hirokami, an outstanding young conductor, musician and advocate for the highest and best of music.
We have faced crises like these before. In 1969 we women were behind the successful effort to save the Ohio Theatre when it was on the very brink of destruction, when the chandeliers and other Ohio Theatre cultural treasures had all been sold. During that crisis we helped raise the money to renovate the Ohio Theatre so our symphony could have a home.
For almost 60 years we have stood whole-heartedly behind the orchestra musicians of Columbus, supporting our Symphony’s mission “to develop and foster the art of orchestral music at the highest possible artistic level,” attending concerts, purchasing series’ tickets, and throwing our full weight into fundraising and other vital community work for the Symphony.
As we celebrate the courage and sacrificial efforts of those few but faithful 56 signers of our Declaration of Independence this July 4, those who paved the way for our lives here today, let us commit ourselves anew to what we believe in, for generations to come: Live Symphonic Music for Columbus.
Valerie Gibbs, (Lyric), Encore/Caprice Lifetime member