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Michael Avagliano

Everything old is new again...

Nov. 3, 2008 at 10:56 PM

To the five people who might remember my blog entries from 2005 (boy, that sounds like a long time ago): This blog's for you.

 I've become a conductor again -- well, not again, really. I've been conducting in one way or another pretty regularly since I took the reins of the Central Jersey Symphony for one season in 2004-05. The ironic thing is that, at the time, I sincerely thought I would never be in front of that orchestra again. But fast forward to 2008, and I've become music director of the CJSO for the foreseeable future, or at least until they find someone better. 

This orchestra has some unique challenges, the most critical being fundraising. Most community orchestras have some sort of geographic base to draw from, like the other community orchestra I work with, the Manalapan Symphony. Having that base to draw from, whether it's local businesses or local government, makes it easier to go out and work for donations. (In Manalapan's case, I don't even have to do that -- the township actually supports the symphony directly, as a public service. Imagine if every town was so enlightened in its support of the arts!)

 Central Jersey, on the other hand, has trouble with that -- there are no towns named Central Jersey, and the area the orchestra lives in (southern Somerset County), is not built with the same kind of  "downtown" areas in the local towns the way that parts of NJ that developed earlier are. So trying to build support for the organization is definitely harder. Normally, in a commercial-heavy area, the first thought would be to approach local corporations, but in the current climate, that doesn't seem like the greatest idea in the world. We've found a couple of donors who are committed to the orchestra, though, and the fundraising plan is quickly taking shape. Now all we have to do is put it into practice!

 The other challenge is growing the membership of the orchestra. We have a solid and loyal base of volunteer players, and my first task from a musical standpoint is to increase our numbers. Of course, the best way for us to do that is to play a couple of really great concerts and make musicians want to come play with us. Not to sound too confident, but I think our first concert of the season will do just that. It's a good program, and the orchestra is really responding in rehearsal, so with a little luck and lots of hard work, we'll have that great first concert. 

 So, for everyone who lives within a 40 mile radius (or further, if you're really committed) of Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg, New Jersey:

 Come one, come all, and join the Central Jersey Symphony! Our first concert of the season is on Sunday, November 23 at 3 pm. Rehearsals are Tuesday nights, 7:30-10, at Raritan Valley Community College, in the Arts Building. We're always happy to welcome new members, especially string players! We work hard (as I said), but we also have a great time doing it. So if you are interested in playing great orchestral music in a fine community orchestra, just let me know. You'll be glad you did. 

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