Picture it – Erie. 2015. The Erie Philharmonic hires a (almost) completely new team to run the administrative office and, almost exactly three years later, I’m glad to report – we are still having a blast together.
I’m confident that there’s seldom a staff that works out both as co-workers and as friends after the work is done. Not every experience has been perfect, like the time we planned a recurring fundraiser based solely on Mac n’ Cheese, knowing a certain Patron Services Manager is lactose-intolerant (I’m looking at you, Lisa…) or the times embarrassing videos from around the office made it to a featured place on our various social media accounts (Steve, this one is all you…). We always come out stronger on the other side of any experience.
There have simply been too many highlights to name throughout the past three seasons, but I’m going to do my best and feature two that’ve gone above and beyond:
Erie Philharmonic Youth Concerts – If you ever want a great real-world example of the term “organized chaos,” I would encourage you to volunteer for one of our Youth Concerts each November. Getting 2,000 elementary students into the Warner Theatre is one feat, getting that first group out while simultaneously getting another 2,000 into the theatre in a limited amount of time is…well, fun certainly isn’t the right word – but it’s definitely an experience!
Getting to see the faces of each student as they walk into the grand, golden State Street lobby is unforgettable. The shock, awe and excitement on their faces is tangible as teachers, volunteers and Erie Philharmonic staff alike work to keep each group organized. These kids get to experience true joy through learning from the moment they walk through the Warner’s art deco entrance until the last measure of music provided by our musicians. Being a part of this experience for the students is truly invaluable. These concerts are what great memories are made of and I feel fortunate to work for an organization that not only champions experiences like these, but actively works to make them a reality for our community.
The Organ Symphony – I will admit my ‘music nerd’ came out in full force during the last symphonic concert of our 2016-17 season, “The Organ Symphony.” While I can genuinely say that I’ve enjoyed each and every concert for different reasons during my time with the orchestra so far, this one stuck out in particular because it featured two of my absolute favorite pieces of music: Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem and Camille Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3 in C minor – the “Organ” Symphony.
This concert brought tears to my eyes and happiness to my heart in a way no concert had done before or since. As my Phil family already knows, “I just have a lot of emotions,” and nothing brings it out of me like great music.
There’s something that links both of these fantastic memories – dedication. In my eyes, the level of dedication, effort, organization, and camaraderie our staff exhibits is largely unmatched. Working at the Erie Philharmonic is a lot like looking at an iceberg. The concerts, events, laughs, and friendly conversations buoys optimistically above the water, while below the surface lies hours planning, preparation, trial and error, and error, and more trial. It all comes down to one thing, though, that keeps the engines going – love. Love for our work, love for each other, and love for what we can bring to our community.