New Britain Symphony enters season on a high note
By Scott Whipple
NEW BRITAIN — A year ago, the New Britain Symphony Orchestra ceased to exist.
“They ran out of money,” said Adrian Sylveen, artistic director, New Britain Symphony-The Connecticut Virtuosi.
Former symphony conductor Jesse Levine and its managing director, Catherine Stockman, had died. The symphony’s customer base had eroded. For the first time in its 62-year history there was no concert season.
“It was like a typhoon we couldn’t get out of,” said symphony board member Dick Judd.
The success of Connecticut Virtuosi concerts and their youthful audiences impressed the symphony board and made them consider Sylveen as a possible director of a combination of the two music groups. He had managed The Connecticut Virtuosi for 14 years without a deficit.
“Adrian reaches out to the community in all areas,” NBSO President Nancy Judd told the Herald. “These two organizations have two very different audiences and we are bringing them together.”
When the New Britain Symphony Orchestra joined forces with the Connecticut Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra in March the hope of both boards was that the combination would create an exciting musical experience for music lovers in central Connecticut.
Sylveen selected the best musicians from the two organizations, established a joint budget, secured major sponsors, and brought the two boards together. Then on Friday, he announced that Anne Pilla, former executive director at Trinity-on-Main, would join New Britain Symphony-The Connecticut Virtuosi as development and outreach coordinator.
“Anne has the contacts and experience we need to reconnect with the community,” Sylveen said.
His plan for Pilla is ambitious.
“Not only do we want to bring audiences to our concerts,” he said, “we want to bring customers to local businesses and restaurants. Our events are not just for symphony lovers.”
Sylveen is also changing the way educational programs have been structured. Through school concerts, music lessons and the music school at Tunxis Community College career paths will open for children who choose a musical career as a profession.
“We’ll make scholarships available for those who can’t afford a music education,” said Sylveen. “We want them to succeed.”
Sylveen says he has gained the commitment of music teachers in the New Britain Consolidated School District willing to contribute their time.
Pilla will look for and promote growth opportunities for both the symphony and virtuosi chamber orchestra.
Her “baptism by fire” is on Sept. 23 when the collaborative will host a major fundraiser — a dinner with a silent auction at Shuttle Meadow Club.
The first concert of the season for the collaborative will be Oct. 2 in Welte Hall on the campus of Central Connecticut State University State University. The program: Shore-Music from “The Lord of the Ring;” Glazunov-Violin Concerto, soloist: Brunilda Myftaraj, violin; Lutoslawski-Little Suite for Symphony Orchestra; Sibelius- Symphony No.2
Pilla says she’s excited to be working with Sylveen.
“I want to make sure the three collaborative concerts at Welte Hall are successful,” said Pilla, a former executive director of the New Britain Symphony Orchestra. “We want the collaborative to grow stronger each year.”
Pilla will also do public relations for the Connecticut Virtuosi, work on the production of operas, and the expansion of youth music programs in the schools.
“You build an organization on trust and respect more than on cash flow,” Sylveen said. “I have great respect for Anne. I see ours as a long-term business relationship.”