A Party of Note
Follow the lead of this West Virginia symphony board and orchestrate a pre-concert party.
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Marvin Hamlisch, composer of over 40 motion picture scores and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway show A Chorus Line, says, “Music can make a difference. It has the potential to bring all people together.” With that in mind, Susan Hardesty, West Virginia University’s former first lady, recently hosted a gathering in her Morgantown home to celebrate the three-year anniversary of the partnership between WVU and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO). For Susan, who serves on a collaborative board of advisors that work together with the PSO to bring the world’s finest conductors and musicians to Morgantown three times a year, such a partnership is cause for celebration. “For a resident of West Virginia to have the opportunity to hear a world-class orchestra in their own backyard is a tremendous opportunity,” she says.
When it was time to choose a theme for her party, Susan didn’t have to look far for inspiration. The series’ second show, Broadway Rocks, performed this spring at the Creative Arts Center and conducted by Marvin Hamlisch, provided a colorful springboard for culinary ideas. Guests were treated to an ensemble of mouthwatering dishes inspired by lively Broadway musicals such as Hairspray, Wicked, Mamma Mia!, Dream Girls, and Jersey Boys.
Although many people are involved in bringing the PSO to Morgantown, Susan heavily credits College of Creative Arts Dean Bernard Schultz with facilitating the partnership. “I think this relationship is one of the most significant and lasting programs that Bernie Schultz has given to the College of Creative Arts and the Morgantown community,” she says.
“What makes the partnership so thrilling to me is the fact that we have the ability to bring to Morgantown one of the best orchestras in the entire world,” says Bernard. “Due to our partnership agreement, WVU students and members of the community have the opportunity to take master classes with members of the PSO.”
Not only does the partnership enhance the cultural appeal of Morgantown, it brings the education of music students at WVU to an entirely new level. In addition to studying with the accomplished faculty at the College of Creative Arts, students have the rare chance to perform with musical giants. “The partnership with the symphony provides WVU students the kind of experience that is usually available only at a conservatory such as Juilliard,” Jane Donovan, president of the WVU-PSO collaborative board, points out.