As published in the Record Journal Wednesday July 3, 2013
By Brianna Gurciullo
WALLINGFORD — Philip Ventre watched hands shoot up
when he asked who played a musical instrument among the roughly 1,400 students
who attended the Wallingford Symphony Orchestra’s children’s concerts in
Ventre, the orchestra’s musical director, said the annual show has
inspired countless young people to study classical music since 1980. The
tradition, held at the Paul Mellon Arts Center on the Choate Rosemary Hall
campus, will continue in 2014 with an annual golf tournament benefiting the
program scheduled for August.
“It’s important because it gives these
children exposure to classical music, which they probably don’t have,” said
Ventre, who helped found the WSO in 1974.
The Uria and Johanna Fishbein
Charitable Foundation will host its Memorial Golf Classic on Aug. 10 at the
Tradition Golf Club. The eighth annual event will benefit the Uria and Johanna
Fishbein-WSO Children’s Concert Program, which offers two performances to public
and parochial students in grades three through six each spring.
member Elizabeth Mitchell, who helps coordinate the show, said the musicians
serve as role models for the students.
going to work harder on their instruments so they’re going to get as good as
that,” she said. “It gives kids incentive, inspiration if they are actually
studying a musical instrument, as well as music itself is good for creativity
and thinking your own thoughts.”
Johanna Fishbein, who died in 1997, was
a longtime WSO board member. She owned a local dance studio until the early
1940s and gave free ballroom dancing lessons at area schools.
established the charitable foundation to honor the legacy of Johanna Fishbein
and her husband, Uria, after he died in 2004.
Ventre, who attends the
golf tournament every year, said Johanna Fishbein was “instrumental” in raising
money for Wallingford’s professional orchestra.
Mitchell said the golf
tournament is one of the major sources of funding for the children’s concert,
which was the brainchild of the Junior Woman’s Club (now known as Wallingford
Community Women) and Ventre. The proceeds help WSO staff pay the professional
musicians and for bus transportation to the show.
The WSO has also
received money for the program from the town’s Rotary Club Foundation and from
national foundations. The nonprofit organization won its first grant from the
James H. Napier Foundation, which favors local initiatives for children
and families, this year.
“Music can be helpful
in developing IQ and emotional stability and so forth. All of those things kind
of go hand-in-hand,” Mitchell said about the concert’s benefits.
added that some students have sent letters to the WSO after they attended the
concerts, providing commentary on the music. One student wrote that the show
“for a short time, took away the tensions” in his life.
music does,” Mitchell said. “They listen and it’s kind of the only time they’re
honest with their own thoughts — in terms of what the music is conveying to
Mitchell said the town has a long history of musical excellence in
its schools, highlighting Richard Otto, who led the Lyman Hall High School band
to a national music conference in 1969. But Ventre, who teaches music at Choate,
said elementary and middle schools have increasingly cut classical music courses
from their curricula.
Proceeds from the golf tournament will also go
toward the fund for an annual scholarship awarded to a Wallingford high school
Tournament costs total $150, which includes greens fee, cart,
driving range, lunch, dinner, and a giveaway bag. Players will tee off at 1 p.m.
on the course at 37 Harrison Road.