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Rubin named MSO president

January 06, 2000

Bennett RubinBy ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY / Staff Writer

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer




Bennett Rubin was a "shoe"-in for the Maryland Symphony Orchestra board's top job.

The Hagerstown resident, who will take his post as MSO president in July 2000, has a past steeped in music, basted by business and flavored with charity.

He produced Grammy-nominated jazz albums and headed a Hagerstown-based shoe company before retiring in the early to mid-1990s to pursue charitable interests from his office at 82 W. Washington St.

Rubin is a trustee on the boards of the Washington County Museum of Fine Art, Community Foundation of Washington County and Goodwill Industries of Hagerstown, he said.

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In 1997, Rubin and his wife, Geraldine, donated the Hagerstown Shoe Co. building at 148 W. Franklin St. to Christ's Reformed Church for a variety of charitable uses.

"I am thrilled with what they're going to do with that building," said Rubin, who is in his early 70s.

But it's music that's tooted Rubin's horn since he caught the jazz bug in a Boston bar as a bearded 15-year-old.

Rubin's love of jazz traveled with him from his New England hometown to jobs at Cannon Shoe Co.'s original Baltimore headquarters, its Thurmont, Md., manufacturing plant, its Hagerstown office and the U.S. recording studios where he met with artists and recording agents to produce jazz albums.

He has collaborated with legendary jazz bassist Ray Brown, who was once married to vocalist Ella Fitzgerald, and produced Grammy nominees "Together Again" with Frank West and Frank Foster and a Count Basie tribute titled "Hail to the Chief."

Rubin in 1987 won the French equivalent of a Grammy - the Grand Prix - for his production of the album "The Gene Harris Trio Plus One."

Rubin had been serving as president of the Cannon Shoe Co. - which bought the Hagerstown Shoe Co. - for nearly a decade when the MSO got its 1982 start in Washington County.

His interest in the MSO was piqued by a New York Times article, which described premier French horn player Barry Tuckwell's plans to found a symphony orchestra in Hagerstown, Rubin said.

He immediately recognized that the fledgling orchestra could become a cultural asset to the area and would lure shoe business and manufacturing employees to Hagerstown from bigger cities.

Rubin became directly involved with the MSO in 1983, and has supported the symphony in various capacities ever since. He has served as treasurer and chaired the search committee for a new music director to replace Tuckwell, he said.

Rubin currently is board vice president, and hopes as president to keep the MSO growing and expanding in areas such as music education, he said.

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