Tag Archives: Johnstown Symphony Orchestra

Symphony orchestra announces big plans for ‘17-’18

James Blachly, conductor for the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, tells an audience at the Johnstown Heritage Discovery Center about the upcoming season’s concerts on April 19. Staff photo by Cody McDevitt.


The Johnstown Symphony Orchestra has announced its upcoming concert season schedule. Conductor James Blachly said an emphasis will be placed on the connection between the city and the symphony as its theme throughout its 2017-18 season.

“We will be highlighting our history, our present and our future together,” Blachly said.

It will be called “My Johnstown Symphony.” Blachly and other symphony members held an event at the Johnstown Heritage Discovery Center that included food, cocktails and a presentation by their director and conductor April 19.

The season will kick off on Sept. 16 with “A Night in Venice,” which will feature Italian food and music connected to that city.
“Like Johnstown, Venice was founded because of its location near the water,” Blachly said. “We will be celebrating that unique city with a great party with costumes.”

On Oct. 20 they will have an open performance at the Cambria Iron Works, which keeps with the theme of the season, connecting Johnstown’s heritage with the symphony. It’s to be free and open to the public. They plan on inviting old steelworkers back for the performance.

On Oct. 21 they are to perform the “American Music Festival: Part I Past and Future,” which will showcase music by Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland among others.

On Nov. 11 they are to have the second part of the American music festival, and it’s to be a program commemorating Veterans Day. It is to also feature a performance of “Appalachian Spring,” by Copland.

“It’s an important composition in American history, and it tells what we think America can be,” Blachly said.

The symphony is to have its Christmas Choir Spectacular on Dec. 16. They are to have a “JSO Pops” concert Feb. 10 that includes eight decades of Broadway music, part of which will be from “West Side Story” and “South Pacific.”

The symphony is to perform the North American premiere of Ethel Smyth’s “The Prison” on April 7. On May 12 of next year they are to close out their season with “Symphonic Pictures,” which will blend various art forms to accompany the music.

Other special concerts include the traditional Mother’s Day performance in Somerset and a Fourth of July Fireworks concert at Point Stadium this summer. They also plan to have April young people’s concerts for fifth-grade students.

And perhaps the highlight of the upcoming season involves Josh Gallagher, a Cambria County native who rose to fame after his appearances on NBC’s “The Voice.”

Symphony seeks to rebound, expand programming


JOHNSTOWN — Maestro James Blachly and board members of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra aim to add some innovative new events in 2017.

Goals include new partnerships with young entreprenuers, with area schools and universities, and a “Mozart on the Lawn” summer series in downtown Johnstown. They hope to also bring back the July 4 Point Stadium show, a tradition that was cancelled last year.

But to do this, organizers said during a fund drive press conference at the downtown Johnstown Holiday Inn on Jan. 25, increased financial support is necessary.

“When Johnstown does well, the symphony does well,” Blachly told the audience. “And when the symphony does well, Johnstown does well.
“Let’s go forward together.”

The symphony, according to fund drive Chairwoman Karen Azer, is a year removed from a campaign that raised less than $50,000 under different leadership. The goal for 2017 is to hit $100,000 — a feat that, she said, has been done in the past.

“We are confident we can reach it and, hopefully, exceed it,” she said, adding that trustees have kicked things off with a joint $15,000 contribution.

Azer also emphasized the costs associated with hosting world-class talent. The July 4 show at the Point Stadium, she said, costs more than $20,000 when the sound system is factored in.

“We believe making a commitment to the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra is making a commitment to the community at large. It takes a village to make a campaign like this successful,” she said.

Bill Locher — Azer’s co-chair of the fund drive and an executive with Somerset Trust Co. — agreed.

“I see the importance of having a symphony orchestra here as part of the culturual fiber of the community,” he said.

Financial forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service show significant fluctuations in program service revenue in recent years for the symphony. The nonprofit generated $143,376 in this category in 2011-12, but just $93,349 in 2012-13.

That figure rebounded to $118,699 in 2013-14, only to fall again to $95,924 in 2014-15. No filings were listed online for 2015-16.

In his opening for the press event, local television anchor Marty Radovanic recalled the first time he saw Johnstown Symphony Orchestra many years ago.

“I was blown away that day,” he said. “And I feel that same way every time I see this (symphony).”

To help reach the $100,000 goal, the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra is receiving the help this year of all board members and nearly 60 volunteers to solicit contributions. The plan is to mail information brochures to previous donors, those who buy tickets and members of groups that perform with the symphony.

Proceeds from the fund drive are to help the symphony support its overall operating budget, its youth orchestra and Inclined to Sing Children’s Chorus programs. Board members also hope to continue the symphony’s annual Mother’s Day show in Somerset.

Those with questions are asked to contact the symphony office at 814-535-6738. Donations are tax-deductible, and can be made online at www.johnstownsymphony.org.

Walther hired by Johnstown Symphony Orchestra

Submitted photo


After a six-month national search, retired Johnstown attorney and federal executive Mike Walther has been selected as the new executive director of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, according to a Jan. 10 announcement by the symphony’s board of trustees.
John Coyle, board president, described Walther as “exactly the kind of dynamic leader we had been hoping to find. His creative energy, business acumen and financial management experience will be a perfect complement to the artistic vision of our new music director, Maestro James Blachly.”

Walther served as director of the National Drug Intelligence Center in Johnstown from 2007 until it closed in 2012. He has operated a boutique legal practice with offices in Johnstown and New Orleans since his retirement from the Department of Justice.

Walther is also a retired U.S. Army Reserve military judge whose assignments included a deployment to Iraq in 2006 and 2007 on the staff of Gen. David Petraeus, where he served as director of the Law and Order Task Force in Baghdad.

“Michael Walther has, over the past decade or more, proven himself to be a strong leader and respected member of the Johnstown community,” Blachly said. “He is also a military veteran and he is passionate about the role that this orchestra can play in furthering the growth of Johnstown. We are fortunate that he has chosen to dedicate his abundant talent and prodigious energy to the future of our orchestra, and I am excited for what we can accomplish together.”

The Johnstown Symphony Orchestra is midway through its 88th season, with upcoming performances scheduled for March 11, April 1 and May 13. 

The concert scheduled March 11 features the music of American composer John Williams, with selections from his work in the blockbuster movies “ET,” “Star Wars,” “Jurassic Park” and “Harry Potter.” An April 1, a “French Brilliance” concert is to feature the music of Debussy, Saint-Saëns and Berlioz. The symphony season concludes on May 13 with two of the most recognizable pieces in classical music, Wagner’s “Overture to Tannhäuser” and Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony.”

In addition to its six-concert subscription season, the orchestra is scheduled to perform a Mother’s Day Concert on May 14 in Somerset and a free concert, with fireworks, July 4 at Johnstown’s Point Stadium.

Symphony tickets are available online at www.upjarts.org or by calling 814-269-7200.

Symphony to perform ‘Joy for the Holidays’

Our Town Correspondent

The Johnstown Symphony Orchestra will celebrate the holiday season Dec. 10 with a concert titled “Joy for the Holidays.”

The professional musicians of the symphony are to be accompanied on stage by the Johnstown Symphony Chorus, Inclined to Sing and acclaimed guest soloists. They plan to perform Baroque composer G.F. Handel’s “Messiah.”

Symphony music director and Maestro James Blachly said that one reason he chose “Messiah” — which is one of the most popular pieces of classical music in the world — is because it hasn’t been performed in Johnstown in years.

“I think it’s extremely exciting for our audience to hear ‘Messiah’ for the first time in seven years,” Blachly said. “This piece has been continuously performed and loved by audiences since its premiere in 1741. It has an appeal that transcends time, and it has a timeless message.”

The words for “Messiah” are drawn from scripture and Psalms and set to Handel’s music. The piece is designed to bring to life the story of Jesus.

The piece is known as an oratorio, which means that it’s a dramatic work for the stage, but is performed without costumes, scenery or acting.

“Musically, ‘Messiah’ is so rich that we continue to go back to the piece, and no matter how many times we perform it, we’ll always find something new,” he said. “There’s also no better telling of the Christmas story in music than through Handel’s ‘Messiah.’ In my first season as music director, I wanted to have our Christmas performance be top of the line.”

Blachly has invited international soloists and one of the most renowned baroque continuo players in the world to participate in the performance. The four acclaimed guest soloists include soprano Nacole Palmer, mezzo soprano Kirsten Sollek, tenor Daniel Mutlu and baritone Jesse Blumberg.

“I invited each of these soloists because, having performed ‘Messiah’ dozens of times with each of them, I felt they brought something special and personal to their solos,” Blachly said. “They are all New York Times-reviewed singers with established careers as oratorio singers.

“I can personally vouch for their artistry and for what they’ll bring to the performance. What I want to highlight is that the text of ‘Messiah’ is all drawn from Scripture, either the (Old Testament) or the New Testament. The way these singers can communicate the deeper underlying meaning of the text through their voices is why I selected them as soloists. There are many singers who specialize in making a beautiful sound. These singers go beyond that, and will bring the Christmas message to Johnstown with a personal approach.”

Johnstown Symphony Chorus members, who will be performing under the direction of Samuel Louis Coco, are looking forward to participating as well.
“I’m thrilled to be working closely with the Johnstown Symphony Chorus,” Blachly said. “They have been preparing for this concert for the past three months and I’ve had four rehearsals with them. 

“I’m very excited about the work they’ve done and the performance they will give. I can guarantee an impassioned, joyful performance.”

Members of Inclined to Sing, the symphony’s children’s choir, will also lend their voices to the performance.

“When I first met Kim Rauch (who founded and continues to direct Inclined to Sing), we spoke about the possibility of the children joining us for this Christmas concert, and I’m thrilled to say that they’ll be performing on two of the movements,” Blachly said. “I think it will add a certain beautiful quality to the sound and it will also remind us about what Christmas is all about.”

Blachly said he’s looking forward to this concert and celebrating the holidays with the community, as well as all the musicians who are working hard to make this concert a memorable one.

“In this holiday concert, people of all faiths will relate to the message of joy and understanding,” he said. “And the music will lift us all to our feet.”

A free pre-concert talk is to begin at 6:30 p.m., and the concert is scheduled an hour later at 7:30 p.m. Following the concert, audience members will also be welcome to stay and meet the soloists.

“They can speak to the soloists and even ask them some questions,” Blachly said.

Tickets for “Joy for the Holidays” are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 814-269-7200 or by visiting www.upjarts.org online.

The concert is to take place inside the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown campus.

Symphony orchestra to perform ‘A New Era’

Our Town Correspondent

The Johnstown Symphony Orchestra’s second performance of the 2016-2017 subscription season, “A New Era,” will take place Nov. 12 with a concert titled “A New Musical World.”

The concert, which starts at 7:30 p.m., will be held at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, located on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown campus in Richland Township. Symphony members are to perform Dvorak Symphony No. 9 “From the New World,” which orchestra music director and Maestro James Blachly described as “the most famous and most-performed symphony composed in the United States.”

Antonín Leopold Dvorak, who lived in America during the 1890s, composed the symphony that reflected America as he experienced it, and the symphony inspired fellow composer William Grant Still to create “Poem for Orchestra,” which will also be performed that evening.

In addition, orchestra musicians will perform Johannes Brahms’ “Variations on a Theme of Haydn.” Brahms helped to launch Dvorak’s career, and the pair could be described as lifelong friends.

Blachly said that he chose the musical selections carefully, and all three selections have “fascinating connections.”

“This program deals with two fundamental concepts/ideas: What is American music? And how do composers inspire each other? Brahms and Dvorak were friends,” Blachly said. “They had a very strong professional friendship. Dvorak was eight years younger, and Brahms supported his career substantially, helping him find his first publisher and promoting his orchestra works across the continent.

“Dvorak, then, inspired and helped to create the atmosphere that helped William Grant Still become the composer he was. When Dvorak was the director of the National Conservatory of Music of America, they offered scholarships to African-American students. Through that, Dvorak was making this very interesting statement that the music of America should be based on the Native American and the African-American tradition. It was very controversial at the time, but in some ways you could see Dvorak’s influence on the rise of jazz.”

Blachly said that the Brahms piece that the orchestra is performing became “an inspiration for his own later works.”

“He composed his variations and it’s fascinating to see how much his own symphonic writing launched from those variations,” Blachly said.

He encouraged people to come and see what the orchestra is all about, especially if they haven’t already.

“Audience members who have never heard (the orchestra) perform will love this program, and dedicated concert-goers will find this music presented in a new and fascinating way,” he said. 

Blachly said he’s thrilled to work with the 73 professional musicians who make up the orchestra.

“I’m so excited to share the new sound of the Johnstown symphony with our growing audience,” he said. “The professional musicians of the (orchestra) are sounding better than ever. This concert will be ravishingly beautiful and powerful. This is the perfect concert to come to if you’ve never heard an orchestra before, or if you’ve never heard the (orchestra) before, or if you haven’t heard the (orchestra) in a while.”

Special offers will be given to first time audience members. More information can be found on the orchestra’s official website.
In order for audience members to gain a greater understanding of the music, Blachly will offer a pre-concert talk beginning at 6:30 p.m. All audience members are invited to attend.

Following the concert, Blachly and members of the orchestra will engage in conversation with audience members. Audience members will have an opportunity to ask questions about the music in an informal setting.
“A New Musical World” is sponsored by Picking Family Fund.

For more information about this show, visit johnstownsymphony.org or call a staff member at 814-535-6738. Blachly also has a Twitter account, @JSOMaestro, for those who wish to contact him directly. 

Tickets for the show can be purchased online by visiting www.upjarts.org or by calling the arts center box office at 814-269-7200 during regular box office hours.

‘Symphony Spectacular’ to include a circus touch

Photo credit: johnstownsymphony.org
Photo credit: johnstownsymphony.org


The Johnstown Symphony Orchestra opens its 2016-17 concert season next week with “Symphony Spectacular,” a unique program combining orchestra music with live circus choreography. The event is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Frank J. Pasquerilla Conference Center, 301 Napoleon St. in Johnstown.

The evening marks the debut of James Blachly, the orchestra’s new music director, leading the orchestra in musical selections that include Handel’s “Music for the Royal Fireworks” and Hector Berlioz’s “Symphonie fantastique,” accompanied by a specially choreographed live performance by circus professionals from Muse Circus of Brooklyn, New York.

Along with the season-opening musical performance, those who attend may enjoy an elegant dinner, cocktails and dancing, play circus-themed games, mingle with the featured acrobats, have an opportunity to win prizes and bid on items in a silent auction.

Tickets to this event and/or the entire 2016-17 concert season may be purchased online at www.johnstownsymphony.org or by calling the symphony office at 814-535-6738. 

Symphony orchestra teams up with Bottle Works

Our Town Correspondent

Bottle Works Arts on Third Avenue and Johnstown Symphony Orchestra are teaming up to celebrate the beginning of summer by offering a wine-tasting event titled Tasting Notes.

The event is scheduled for June 3 from 5 to 9 p.m. and will take place at the Art Works building, located at 413 Third Ave. in Johnstown’s Cambria City neighborhood.

Described as a wine-tasting and a wine sales and boutique, the event will benefit both Bottle Works and Johnstown Symphony Orchestra.

“Proceeds will be split evenly between Bottle Works and the symphony,” said Angela Rizzo, Bottle Works executive director. “Working together is smart, and allows both organizations to do more. This event is a win-win for us both.

“Imagine our communities without either of these organizations. Johnstown wouldn’t be as special. Both organizations are small but mighty, and we work hard to make Johnstown a better place to live.”

Participating wineries include B & L Wine Cellar, Germantown Winery, Glades Pike Winery, Glendale Valley Winery and Green Gables. The price of admission includes a souvenir tasting glass.

The craft vendors that are to be on hand throughout the evening are: Riek’s Country Store, Portraits by Marci, Sparkle Jewelry, Wine No More and Jewelry by Alisa Barnhart. Members of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra Auxiliary are also planning to sell purses and scarves.

Cheese and cracker platters will be available, and food vendors RK New York Style Hot Dogs, Green Gables and the Phoenix will offer a unique selection of food items.

Live music will be provided by local musicians Walt Churchey and Jackie Kopco.

“From the wineries to the food, music and art . . . (these are) all local jewels that make Johnstown special,” Rizzo said.

A cornhole contest and basket raffle will round out the evening, and a representative from the American Wine Society will be present to educate about wine. Those who attend Tasting Notes will also have the luxury of walking around the Art Works gallery to enjoy the current display.

Tickets for the event can be purchased in advance at the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra office located inside the Galleria Mall, or at Bottle Works. Tickets can also be purchased online in advance by visiting http://tastingnotes.bpt.me/ and should also be available at the door. For additional information, contact Rizzo at arizzo@bottleworks.org or call 814-535-2020.

All ticketholders must be 21 or older.

“(This will be) a fun time for people to catch up and socialize,” Rizzo said. “If someone hasn’t been to Bottle Works before, come see what you are missing!”

Children’s choruses to sing at UPJ

Our Town Correspondent

The children’s choruses of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra will perform their fall concert Dec. 12 beginning at 11 a.m. at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown campus.

The choruses, Inclined to Sing and The Apprentice Choir, feature 35 young singers in kindergarten through ninth grade.

“Each season I am amazed by the talents of the young children of our area,” said Kim Rauch, who founded the choruses and continues to serve as their artistic director. “Many young singers have been recommended to Inclined to Sing by their school music teachers. The program is indeed for children who love to sing, and they come with that love of singing, and we cultivate their voices and music skills. It is a blessing to work with such talented young people.

“Inclined to Sing was founded on the belief that all children can sing and deserve an opportunity to sing and perform quality choral music. As a child remains with the program, they grow in confidence, tone quality and vocal strength. Some singers in Inclined have been with me for eight years. I am honored by the dedication demonstrated by the families and the trust shown in the program.”

This year’s program, titled “A Season of Song,” will celebrate the four seasons.

“This season has brought us a number of new singers, and I wanted the first rehearsal in September to be about singing, not preparing music for a concert in December,” Rauch said. “I selected songs for each choir that had music and singing skills built into the songs. The seasons theme was natural as we worked from the summer, through the fall, and now into December. Our songs include summer songs (‘The Cuckoo’ and ‘Ah Poor Bird’); songs for autumn (‘Grasshoppers Three’ and ‘Thanksgiving’); and holiday selections (‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ and ‘Jingle Bell Boogie’). Other pieces for any season fill out the program.”

Rauch said that performing on this stage will be a delight for chorus members.

“For many of these young singers, this concert will be their first time on any stage. The (arts center) will definitely make an impression on them,” he said. 

“In the past, the ensemble has adapted to a variety of different performing ‘stages,’ including church sanctuaries, the Flight 93 Memorial outdoor stage and The Grand Halle on Broad Street. I have found the children to be dedicated to their performance and very professional, even at this young age.”

Rauch invited community members to attend the fall concert.

“Watching and hearing the future in these young musicians will bring joy to your day and a smile to your face,” he said. “The youngsters also love to be in front of an audience, and your support is important to their sense of accomplishment.”

Tickets for this show will be available at the door. For more information call 814-535-6738.

Open enrollment for Inclined to Sing begins in January. Rehearsals take place Tuesday afternoons starting at 4:30 p.m. for The Apprentice Choir, and 5:30 p.m. for Inclined to Sing. The choruses rehearse in the choir room of Mount Calvary Lutheran Church along Scalp Avenue in Richland Township. 

Interested families can contact the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra at 814-535-6738 or visit info@johnstownsymphony.org for more information and registration. Tuition scholarships are available and have been provided by Johnstown Symphony Chorus members.

Zona to conduct symphony orchestra

Submitted photo
Submitted photo


Guest conductor Joshua Zona will direct the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra at its annual Christmas concert, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center.

Titled “Joyous Holidays: A Family Christmas Concert,” the program will feature a variety of holiday classics, including “We Need A Little Christmas,” “Deck the Halls,” “The Holly and the Ivy,” “Candles and Dreidels” and excerpts from “The Nutcracker.” A Christmas singalong with the audience is also planned.

Zona is the third of six conductor candidates to lead the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra this season, as a new music director and conductor is chosen for the local orchestra. He serves as music director and conductor of the Rapides Symphony Orchestra in Alexandria, Louisiana, and is the founding music director of the Renova Music Festival in New Castle, Lawrence County, a two-week chamber music and chamber orchestra development program for pre-professional musicians ages 18 to 25.

Zona’s conducting has given him the opportunity to work with orchestras in the U.S. and abroad, including the St. Petersburg Chamber Orchestra, the Puebla State Symphony in Mexico, the City of Grosseto Symphony and Sanremo Symphony Orchestra, both in Italy and the Constanta Symphony Orchestra in Romania.

He earned a bachelor’s from Ohio State University, did graduate study in horn performance at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Michigan State University.

Tickets to the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra’s Christmas concert can be purchased online at www.upjarts.org, by calling 814-269-7200 or by visiting the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center’s box office on the Pitt-Johnstown campus. 

With Opera Festival finale upcoming, organizers look to what’s next

Photos by Beth Miller Maestro Istvan Jaray, conductor laureate of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, talks about the 23-year history of the symphony’s Opera Festival at a press conference announcing the final year of the annual event. Jaray has also retired from his position as the symphony’s musical director and conductor after 31 years at the podium.
Photos by Beth Miller
Maestro Istvan Jaray, conductor laureate of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, talks about the 23-year history of the symphony’s Opera Festival at a press conference announcing the final year of the annual event. Jaray has also retired from his position as the symphony’s musical director and conductor after 31 years at the podium.


After 23 years the curtain will close for the final time Sept. 19 on the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra’s annual Opera Festival, established in 1992 by the late Frank and Sylvia Pasquerilla to bring world-class opera singers to Johnstown in an annual fundraising concert for the symphony orchestra.

This program will also be one of the last Johnstown Symphony Orchestra concerts conducted this year by Maestro Istvan Jaray, now the symphony’s conductor laureate and principal guest conductor for the 2015-16 season. A new conductor for the symphony orchestra will be chosen after each of six finalist candidates perform with the symphony during this season’s subscription series of concerts.

“Celebrate Opera, It’s Life in Music” will be held at 7 p.m. at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown campus. An 80-minute uninterrupted concert of arias mixed with a few musical theater selections is planned, featuring performances by four renowned opera soloists: mezzo-soprano Margaret Lattimore, soprano Katherine Whyte, tenor Adam Luther and bass Nikita Storojev.

These vocal artists will perform along with the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra and the Johnstown Symphony Chorus.

“All of these artists are truly, truly magnificent and delightful; (they are) internationally known and their quality is the highest,” Jaray said.

“(Opera) is just the same as musicals . . . there’s dialogue in between. It’s just a matter of genre; it’s a matter of opera is a more serious subject, musicals are much lighter and romantic. That’s the difference; the music is exactly the same. So we really try to see that these mixtures are really pleasing to everybody in our audience, and everybody will have a chance to enjoy something (from) the evening.”

The final performance of the Opera Festival should be especially moving for the audience, as Jaray says farewell to the festival and the symphony podium with the Italian composition “Con Te Partiro,” which translates in English as “Time to Say Goodbye.”

The Johnstown Symphony Orchestra will also honor the Pasquerilla family for their years of support to the Opera Festival and the symphony in general. Mark Pasquerilla and Leah McCullough, the children of Frank and Sylvia Pasquerilla, have continued to financially support the Opera Festival since 1999 in their parents’ memory.

Mark Pasquerilla said Joyce Murtha and the late U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha have also been vocal supporters of the Opera Festival, “adopting” the event after the deaths of his parents.

A post-performance reception will be held immediately after the concert at the Pasquerilla Conference Center in downtown Johnstown. A lavish buffet dinner, guest artists, and a live and silent auction is planned. Auction items include Notre Dame, Penn State and Steelers football tickets, a private dinner with wine pairings at Sunnehanna Country Club and an opportunity to be a guest conductor of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra at its opening concert of the 2016-17 season. Gift certificates for restaurants, spa and golf packages and shopping opportunities will also be auctioned, according to auction co-chairs Joan Moss and Sharyn Spinelli.

Those seeking more information can contact the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra office at 814-535-6738. The 2015 Opera Festival is sponsored by Mark Pasquerilla and Leah McCullough, Concurrent Technologies Corp., Somerset Trust Co., AmeriServ Financial and AmeriServ Trust and Financial Services, 1st Summit Bank, “A Friend of the Symphony,” Jennmar Corp., UPMC and UPMC Health Plan.

In the Opera Festival’s 23-year existence, it has raised more than $2 million in support for the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra and chorus, youth choruses, the youth symphony orchestra and Community Strings, festival chair John Coyle said.

“The Opera Festival in its current format has been an exceptional event for the (symphony orchestra), and it’s created financial support and wonderful memories,” Coyle said. “As the curtain falls on the event in its current format, we’re presented with the possibility of something new . . . the possibility of what comes next is limitless.”

Joyce Murtha, honorary chairwoman of the Opera Festival, said that the “metropolitan quality” of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra and the cultural value of events like the Opera Festival are important to support in the Johnstown area.

“It is essential that the success of our symphony orchestra and the Opera Festival continue. It not only improves the culture of this area, but it makes our lives more enjoyable for those of us living here. And it entices people and businesses to locate here. Those are three compelling reasons for us to continue what the Pasquerillas have started,” Joyce Murtha said.

“Please come out and support this event . . . I can promise you beautiful music from our maestro and the symphony orchestra, and a very elegant evening. Let’s make Frank and Sylvia proud, and show them how much we appreciate their efforts.”

Monica Kozak and her husband certainly appreciate those efforts.

The Kozaks returned to Johnstown three years ago, after 40 years of living and working in Dallas, Texas. They were season ticket holders of the Dallas Grand Opera and symphony for more than 20 years. Once they returned to Johnstown to retire, they decided to attend a performance by the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra.
The Kozaks were pleased in what they saw, and have attended many concerts since.

“We were so impressed with the quality of the performances. It’s every bit as good as the Dallas symphony,” Monica Kozak said.

Student workshop planned


The four guest soloists of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra’s Opera Festival will also present a Masterclass Student Workshop on Sept. 17 at the Richland High School auditorium. About 170 area high school students from around the area are expected to attend.

Mezzo-soprano Margaret Lattimore, soprano Katherine Whyte, tenor Adam Luther and bass Nikita Storojev will rehearse musical selections from the Opera Festival repertoire and interact with the students, festival chairman John Coyle said.