NRO celebrates 50 years, part 2
summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
Dates of Service: President 1992. Active with the NRO on committees, board, etc. 1985 – 1996. On the Board 1986 – 1996.
How did you get involved with the NRO? When we first moved to Evergreen in 1985, the NRO was headquartered here, and was a very important part of the community. A neighbor, Lynn Shelby, invited my wife Anita and me to participate in a fundraising committee for the Colorado Philharmonic Orchestra (prior name of the NRO). We did, and enjoyed the organization and those involved. I was asked to join the Board the year after that and the rest is history.
Why did you serve as President? I have a deep commitment to the Orchestra’s mission and wanted to share that with others. I am a musical failure, and do not play any instrument. However, when I meet the young musicians and experience their passion for classical music and their level of commitment to their profession, I am energized. I have witnessed the amazing amount of discipline and hard work it takes to get to the highly skilled level of performance they have achieved. I know that the NRO has made a difference in their lives, and I am proud to have had a small part in helping them have the unique experience the NRO offers.
Lifetime Profession: Recovering CPA and manager of a lighting distributor in downtown Denver.
* The move from Evergreen to Keystone and then to Breckenridge.
* Our first summer gala in the Keystone tent with high tea.
* Our first Breckenridge Gala in a tent in the parking lot.
* Paying off our $225K debt in 2002 from the Seoul Olympics and Wolf Trap trips in 1998.
* All the great friends I have made as a result of my involvement with the NRO.
Thoughts on the NRO 50th Anniversary? Knowing how far we have come since the days of housing the musicians in a fire-trap lodge with dirt floors in Evergreen and performing at the high school to performing at the Keystone tent to performing at the “Madonna Dome” in Breckenridge to the beautiful new enclosed music center in Breckenridge. It is reassuring to see the commitment of the current board, and it makes me even more confident the NRO will be around for another 50 years
Dates of Service: President 1993 for 4 years. I joined the Board in 1990 and served about 8 years.
How did you get involved with the NRO? I got involved when my friend who was on the board (Greg Dobbs) told us as we were moving from the Seattle area to Evergreen in July of 1989 not to “pack my tux” in the moving van. He said he was taking me to the best party I would attend in a long time (the NRO Gala at Keystone). Two days after we arrived we did indeed go to the “best party”. They auctioned the “conduct the NRO” prize and my wife Ann (knowing I was a closet conductor) bought it for me. I was hooked! A few months later I joined the board.
Why did you serve as President? I served because I believe strongly in the mission of the NRO. These fantastic musicians need an opportunity to experience their coming profession in a “real world” environment where they rehearse a few times and then perform the world’s great music. They need preparation for vital, life changing auditions. They need help understanding how to survive financially and emotionally in the world of classical music. And finally, they deserve the opportunity of a lifetime to play with other musicians of equal caliber and commitment for a few weeks of true joy at what they have accomplished in becoming so good at what they do.
Lifetime Profession: I have spent 40 years in travel, tourism, railroad car building and other related businesses.
Memorable Moments: That is easy. Standing at the back of the tent in Breck during the first rehearsal of the season that many thought would never occur with my arm around the shoulder of my good friend Carl. We both had tears in our eyes as the musicians played beautifully as though nothing had ever happened.
Thoughts on the NRO 50th Anniversary? It is amazing to see a non-profit in the arts with the history that we have. It is firstly a testament to the vision and tenacity of Carl Topilow who went many times without his pay while he toiled away making the NRO greater and greater. It is secondly a testament to the many fine volunteers, and especially the Presidents, who have dedicated precious time and money to keep this gem alive. And lastly, it is a testament to the vision of the Breckenridge City Council who had the vision of what music could bring to Breckenridge and who have had the courage to keep funding and encouraging the growth of music in the Town.
Sorry I won’t be with you but my hearty congratulations to the Board and the volunteers for making the NRO such a vital organization.
Dates of Service: President, 1995-96 Keystone
How did get involved with the NRO? I lived in Copper and used to drive to concerts in Keystone, Ginny Rockwell invited me to join the Board. I enjoyed the NRO so much that I sold my place in Copper and bought a condo in Keystone at The Pines. I was a professional musician in Illinois playing the Bass Clarinet, and Saxophone in Dance, Concert and Marching Bands.
Why did you serve as President? Tom Rader asked me to help him out. We had a great group: Jim Kreider, Tom Rader, Gerri Cohen, Greg Dobbs, and Joe Kramer. We were in serious financial trouble due to lack of attention to the details of running a business! This team worked diligently for over a year to reduce debt and raise money to get back into the black. Joe Kramer had a contact at the IRS who helped us work out a payment plan for our back taxes without interest or penalties. Without that we could not have done it. This group later became known as “The NRO Saviors” . There were also years that Carl Topilow went without full pay to help with costs.
Lifetime Profession: CEO Stanley Structures, a division of Stanley Tool Company. We manufactured pre-cast concrete products to enable faster building construction. We worked on buildings all over Keystone, Breckenridge, and Vail.
Memorable Moments? The young people of the NRO…every season they are immediately able to play difficult music. I have 6 grandchildren that I have introduced to the NRO music. We need to encourage people who have an interest in Symphony music and care about its future.
Thoughts on NRO 50th Anniversary? I have made a lot of good friends through this experience.
Favorite Music: Mahler
Personality: Capriccio – Spirited.
Dates of Service: President 1998. On the Board: 1998-2000
How did get involved with the NRO? Mike Altenberg scooped me up as the token “Breckenridge person” because I NRO was moving to Breckenridge that year and I had been a supporter.
Why did you serve as President? I was selected by the Nominating Committee after having served on the board for many years. I was the 1st woman to serve as president.
Lifetime Profession: Organizational Development
Memorable Moments? Carl’s 20 Anniversary party and my “kitchen cabinet” Barry Shepard, Mike Altenberg and Tom Rader
Thoughts on NRO 50th Anniversary? Congratulations to generations of NRO professional and board leadership, musicians, and the Town of Breckenridge. We owe our greatest appreciation for this milestone to our gifted Maestro Carl Topilow for his clear vision, his unparalleled conducting skills, his musical/people/production instincts, his unqualified NRO support, his jaw dropping creativity and his tenacity for excellence. The NRO has been blessed by his dedication to the future of classical music performance and classical music performers.
When I was on the board, the NRO faced financial ruin due to a former Executive Director’s misjudgment. Our situation was so dire that many board members resigned.
Next to Carl Topilow, Tom Rader is the NRO’s hero. He rallied the remaining board and, with his infectious optimism, kept us motivated and growing. He still has that cheerleading effect on others. Mike Altenberg dug us out of the hole with his clear grasp of financials and his diplomatic negotiations with our creditors and his fund raising leadership. Barry Shepard put the NRO on the top of his many philanthropic endeavors and was devoted to clearing our debt, keeping the lights on and maintaining the quality of our program. These were my mentors and my advisors during my tenure. The NRO and I were blessed with their support. If there were a Mt. Rushmore for the NRO, these 3 would be profiled there.
Dates of Service: President 2004. Served on Board 1996 to present (Chair of the Sustainers presently)
How did get involved with the NRO? John and Anne Kern talked to me for several years about joining the Board. Nancy Follett “pushed” me over the edge in 1996 and promptly had me join the strategic planning committee.
Why did you serve as President? Nancy Follett, the President and board before me made a big decision to have the National Repertory Orchestra leave the combined NRO/BMI organization. Nancy had a big job on her hands looking for an Executive Director and at the same time, putting on fund raisers, galas, finding housing for incoming musicians, getting a program book together and getting us out of debt. She did a land office job! There were many possible projects on the plate and Nancy thought I could get some of them off the ground. I felt it would be an exciting challenge and took it on.
One of those projects was to get an endowment fund started. Bob Follett, Sonny Wiegand and Lou Wagner stepped up to the plate to get that endeavor going. We worked on our data base which was a shambles, including tracking down alumni of the orchestra. We produced our first annual report during my tenure. We had our first winter fund raiser/recognition event. A Board Member book was put together for better understanding of how the NRO functions and roles and responsibilities of Board members.
When Keystone cancelled the 4th of July concert Kikken Miller and I went to work convincing Dillon that they had the perfect venue for that event. That continues to this day.
An Honorary Board committee was put together to keep in contact with past Board members and current interested supporters of the orchestra. At the end of my term this group was renamed to the Sustainers of the National Repertory Orchestra. They have an annual meeting every July.
For the first time we sold merchandise on concert nights, making a significant contribution to our funds in the second year. We began a process to revamp the web site which continued year to year. We had a record number of musicians audition in my second year. We attracted a major conductor, Andrew Litton, to come in and rehearse the orchestra, resulting in his coming in the following year as a guest conductor. We had our first movie music concert which was a sold out event. We had an increase in attendance both years of my presidency.
Lifetime Profession: I am a Physical Therapist. I also spent 17 years as a childbirth educator, teaching breast feeding classes and parenting classes. I lectured around the country on Physical Therapy topics and Childbirth education topics. Currently I consult for folks with problems needing Physical Therapy and continue volunteer service as a member of the Summit Rotary Club.
1) Andrew Litton, Dallas Symphony conductor, taking off his coat after 5 minutes in to the rehearsal. He thought the NRO was a so so orchestra playing in the mountains in the summer. It took his breath away to hear the quality and level of expertise of the musicians. He stayed for the whole rehearsal. Here are the words he had to say about this orchestra:
“The National Repertory Orchestra is the ultimate finishing school for an orchestral musician. There are very few courses like it. A testimony to its success is that virtually every one of the 36 musicians I have hired to play in the Dallas Symphony, spent at least one season with the NRO”. Andrew Litton, 2004
2) Hearing the orchestra play in the Dillon Amphitheater the first time
If you had to be reincarnated as a musical instrument, which would it be, and why? I would be a cello. I want to come back as a mellower person, be more in the background of life.
What musical terms describe your personality, or your approach to life, the most?
I would pick Capriccio, quick, improvisational, spirited. I make decisions quickly and have regretted very few of those decisions. Even though I have a calendar to keep track of all the things I do, I can be very spontaneous and that leads to the more fun people, projects and events in my life. Spirited! I have a lot of energy and enthusiasm for life, and I put that energy and enthusiasm into almost everything I do.
Dates of Service: My date of service was 2006 through 2007 as president.
How did get involved with the NRO? I came on the NRO Board after meeting Terese Kaptur, the Executive Director, while watching a Mardi Gras parade at my restaurant, The Horseshoe II in Breckenridge. The NRO office was located next door and she thought “this guy would be great for the special events chair”.
Why did you serve as President? I was really enjoying the work with this board and its mission when NRO President, Sandy Mortensen, asked me to become the Vice President. I really learned a lot from Sandy and became her successor as a way to give back to the community. I also received personal satisfaction in helping enable the NRO’s talented musicians find work in the symphonic world of music.
Memorable Moments? I have many wonderful memories with the NRO, but highlights would be Carl’s 30th anniversary celebration, and the opening night of the new hard-shelled roof at the Riverwalk Center. The acoustics and comfort of the facility enabled the orchestra to play at its highest level to a full house.
Lifetime Profession: I have been a restaurateur and commercial property developer living in Breckenridge for the past 34 years.
Dates of Service: 2001 Season to present.
How did get involved with the NRO? First as a Community Link member, then as a Board Member, Chair of Community Link and currently President. Bonnie had been known for many years at “NRO Mom”.
Why did you serve as President? The NRO was in a state of flux with a new ED, the president elect had declined to continue involvement with the NRO as had the Treasurer. I was the most experienced Board member willing to take on the leadership responsibility.
Lifetime Profession: Corporate Institutional Pharmacy management, Healthcare consultant and columnist
Memorable Moments? The dedication and commitments of the incredibly talented musicians who come together to perform…..hearing that first concert each season.
Thoughts on NRO 50th Anniversary? This year is an especially poignant one when we think of the enormous amount of effort, commitment and dedication that have made the past 50 years possible. The Board and staff will survive this national economic crisis to continue the NRO and its mission of Nurturing the Future of Music.
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