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MSO Guild raises $59,000 with gala evening

November 04, 2003|by Alicia Notarianni

alician@herald-mail.com

On an uncommonly warm Saturday evening in November, striking couples clad in black ties and alluring gowns filed into the Fountain Head Country Club. A proper young man in a top hat greeted them at the door and directed them to the greeting line. On their way, couples passed through a reception area that had been transformed into a 1930s art deco hotel lobby. The couples were kicking off the evening at the Maryland Symphony Orchestra Guild's annual black tie benefit event, Black and White: A Symphony Ball.

Tickets for the Nov. 1 event were sold out, with 280 people in attendance and even more hopefuls on a waiting list. Organizers set up a tent enclosure on the patio in an effort to expand the space and accommodate guests.

Jim Pierne, 52, president of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra board of directors, said, "The guild is made up of volunteers who support the orchestra. They've done a wonderful job organizing the event. The place looks great, and there are over 140 items up for auction." By evening's end, $59,000 had been raised to benefit the orchestra.

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Marty Talton, president of the guild, credited Connie Manger, the auction chair, for her work in organizing the event. "Connie was the heart and soul of the auction. She has the creative spirit to make it all work."

Auction items were donated or purchased by individual and corporate sponsors.

"By the generosity of the local merchants, we have been able to do this for over 20 years," Manger said. "In the spirit of friendly and competitive bidding, people are willing to step out and pay because it's a good cause."

Silent auction items were displayed according to themes, such as vacation trips, weekend get-aways, and crystal and silver.

"We look for things that are exciting and unique," Manger said.

The Maryland Symphony Orchestra and the Maryland Symphony Orchestra Guild were established in 1981 and the guild held its first annual Symphony Ball in 1982. This year, for the first time, guests had the option to submit one-time sealed bids on several items, including a luxury overnight get-away with theater tickets and dinner for four, lunch for eight with Bob Woodward in Georgetown, and a tour of a private art collection and dinner for eight with MSO Music Director Elizabeth Schulze.

Following the auction, guests at the ball dined and danced to the tunes of The Holders.

Longtime MSO board member John Baer attended the ball with his wife, Joan.

"We think this event is a wonderful way to raise money for the symphony and it's enjoyable as well," Joan Baer said.

Richard Hopkins said he attends the event every year because, "The symphony orchestra is one of the best things that ever happened to Hagerstown."

Pat Hamill, a guild volunteer who moved to the Hagerstown area three years ago, said, "I've met and made wonderful friends through volunteering. The ball is a fun fund-raiser, and it brings such a nice mix of people."

Members of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra Youth Guild also offered their support for the event. Niki Perini, 31, director of the youth guild, said the group is comprised of music students in grades seven through 12 who wish to participate in performances and to support the orchestra through fund-raising efforts. Jennifer Bockrath, 18, a student at St. Maria Goretti High School and a youth guild member, volunteered at the ball to promote bids for a Jamaican vacation.

Joe Tischer, a local business owner and an instructor at Towson University, said, "History tells us about life as it is. Literature tells us about life as it could be. I think the symphony does that too. It's about entertainment, joy and sharing. It's remarkable that Hagerstown has been getting support for this for more than 22 years."

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