Why I donated to Challenge 2010…

The back and forth this weekend over Challenge 2010 on this blog and elsewhere got me thinking.  After years of going hearing the SSO as a private person and writer, I have never donated to the Annual Fund.  I’ve been a subscriber and bought individual tickets.  And, I think I am one of the rare music writers in this town that buys tickets from time to time.  I  justify buying tickets because I believe in classical music and live classical music especially.

I can point to any number of reasons why I have never individually given to the Annual Fund (no one has ever asked me to donate etc.)  As I reflected, the reasons I came up with for not giving weren’t persuasive.  Arguing with myself, I sounded like a person trying to avoid doing more when doing more was within my grasp.

Ultimately, I concluded that I value the work of the SSO and if I value the SSO and its contribution to Seattle, I should be part of making it even better.

I might quibble with how the Challenge 2010 fund was seeded by musicians.  You can see an earlier post for the details; I am not going to rehash them here.  You can decide for yourself whether the musician donation is as advertised.  Even if you don’t like how it came about (I don’t) it isn’t a good reason not to donate to the Annual Fund and it doesn’t diminish the need for significant fundraising if the orchestra is going to reach the next level of excellence.

The SSOPO donated, Jack and Becky Benaroya donated, and board members are donating too.  Readers of this blog should do the same.  It is our orchestra and we should all support it at a level comfortable for our personal and family budget.

I couldn’t come up with a good reason for not donating, but I came up with 10 good reasons why I should donate.  So, I donated.  I called this morning and made a contribution.

Think about why you go to the SSO week after week, year after year.  How has the SSO enriched your life and community?  What are the concerts you remember most? Who are the artists that have taken a bow on the Benaroya Stage you admire most?

When you come up with a reason call the Annual Fund office (206. 215.4832) and make a contribution.  Richard can process your donation (he processed mine).  Or, you can donate online.  When you donate, I’d like to know your reason – post a comment or send me an email and I will share them.

You can read my reasons for donating after the jump.

Symphony musicians are active in the community.  SSO musicians don’t confine their playing just to their weekly concerts at Benaroya.  They perform at churches, in pick up ensembles of their own creation, and at various music festivals in the area.  SSO musicians love what they do and they love their community.

Benaroya Hall is an acoustically superior place to hear music.  Having heard live classical music in any number of halls, Benaroya is the best.

Kurt Masur and Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony.  This was one of the best concerts I have ever heard.  It made me a believer in Bruckner’s music.  This concert will be with me for a long time.  I bought tickets and went to two separate performances.

The SSO records new albums.  In an age of the iPod, the Seattle Symphony, is one of the few orchestras actively recording new CD’s.  The orchestra recently finished the first complete cycle of William Schuman’s symphonies for Naxos and released another CD on the boutique label Harmonia Mundi which features the SSO and Jon Manasse playing Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto.

Nothing beats live music.  When you go to an SSO concert you never know what is going to happen.  Remember a few years back when Lynn Harrell’s cellphone went off and he adroitly turned it off just before he plunging into Strauss’s Don Quixote?

Music can to transform lives.  Whether it is Mozart’s Requiem and my resulting amorous love for classical music or La Sistema, few things can change people the way music does.

The Seattle Symphony is poised for great things.  Amidst all of the turmoil over the last year and the struggles non-profits and arts organizations in particular have faced because of the recession, the orchestra will soon have a new music director and a new executive director.  I have confidence the right people will be hired and in doing so, the orchestra’s future and artistic growth will be bright.

The Seattle Symphony is a steward of forgotten and neglected American repertory.  I first heard the SSO on their Delos cycle of Howard Hanson symphonies.  Gerard Schwarz and the SSO have done more to advocate the music of Diamond, Piston, Schuman, and others.  As a matter of fact, so long as Benaroya Hall stands David Diamond’s music will be heard before every concert.

Mahler’s Eighth Symphony.  Whatever you might think of Mahler or his symphonies, there is no doubt that the 2008 performance of the Symphony of a Thousand was an event unlike any other in Benaroya’s then ten year history. The concert is preserved on a self produced recording that can be purchased at Symphonica.

The Seattle Symphony is our orchestra and we should support it by buying tickets and with our charitable contributions.  Maybe a city our size shouldn’t have an orchestra as good as the SSO?  I don’t buy that argument and I am grateful after each and every concert for the artistic gem we have in the SSO.


2 thoughts on “Why I donated to Challenge 2010…

  1. I DONATED: the very day the ‘tentative agreement’ was formed,and this challenge was issued. (And i remembered to send in my ‘matching fund’ form from my employer as well.) It was as much applause for the musicians, (and their union), for sticking with it in their negotiations as it was for supporting SSO in general. I contribute regularly to the annual fund … because i can, and i know there are many who enjoy its art, but simply can’t afford to contribute beyond the ticket price.

  2. This is a really stupid question, but why can’t Microsoft or any of the huge wealthy corporations around Seattle bail out the SSO?

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