Now that the election is over and the contention and negativity of 2020 may be fading, I think it’s high time we start to focus more on spreading beauty and on the higher things in life.
In the Beloit-Janesville area we already have one terrific underappreciated resource to help us do that, but we are in great danger of losing it. I’m speaking of the Beloit-Janesville Symphony Orchestra, a terrific ensemble that through good times and bad over the last 60-plus years, has introduced so many people to the joys of classical music. The BJSO almost went under during the Great Recession, but in the last few years it has mounted an amazing comeback under the leadership of its music director, Rob Tomaro, and its executive director, Edie Baran.
But as with so many arts organizations, the coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the BJSO’s finances, and without an infusion of badly needed resources it may have to close in the coming year.
One might rightly ask, why emphasize helping to fund an arts organization in these tough times when so many people are hurting? I would argue that while we should all help people to get the basic necessities of life, it is music that makes life worth living. In addition, music at its best can itself inspire people to help others. With all the infighting in America in recent years, people need to be reminded of the finer possibilities and higher aspirations that great music can inspire.
I think the BJSO has done a great job of bringing to our community not just the most beloved works of the classical canon, but also music of underrepresented composers, including women and people of color. Before COVID-19 struck, the symphony was planning a concert by Hispanic composers, and for the anniversary year of the extension of suffrage to women, a concert devoted to works by female composers. In the near future, both concerts may be revived if the BJSO gets enough support.
Even during the worst of the COVID epidemic, when it was impossible to have full symphony concerts, individual members of the BJSO volunteered their time, even as their incomes were severely reduced, to present smaller chamber works at outdoor events in our area. I attended most of these, and they did a lot to boost my own morale in these tough times.
I have treasured classical music all my life and turned to it in good times and bad to help uplift me and spur me on. I have felt so lucky to be part of this community for over 34 years and want to do all I can to help it thrive and grow.
We are so lucky to have such a high-quality arts organization in our midst, and I shudder to think of how diminished our community would be without it. Please consider giving to the BJSO and even joining with me and other members of the BJSO board to find ways to keep our symphony going.
We need not just financial support but the active involvement of more individuals and businesses in our community to help keep the music alive.