Letter from Ryan Geraghty
I think we can all share in my excitement and new-found appreciation for the growing arts community that surrounds us all. As the executive director of the Catskill Symphony Orchestra, I have been blown away by the dedication and enthusiasm that our board, staff, volunteers, musicians, and community partners put into this effort every single day.
The CSO has been around for almost 70 years, and we are proud to be a part of the fabric of this community. I’m sure that many don’t realize that: 1) yes, we have been here for 70 years, and; 2) we employ an average of 50 musicians every concert, all of whom live, work, and shop here in our community. We provide educational opportunities for young people through our annual collaboration with BOCES and we are able to offer free tickets to all students (and their parents!) thanks to an anonymous donor.
The pandemic affected everyone and the Catskill Symphony Orchestra was no exception. We were forced to cancel our entire season in 2020, and our newly appointed Music Director Maciej Żółtowski spent more than two years waiting to conduct a full season. We came back this year with a bang, sharing a gifted pianist, brilliant violinist, and an accomplished jazz trumpeter alongside our world-class orchestra. Soon we will share our largest concert ever with the Catskill Choral Society, performing “Music from the Silver Screen.” (Shameless concert plug: This is May 13 at the SUNY Oneonta Alumni Field House—tickets are $40 and are available at catskillsymphony.org)
Transitions and new beginnings are on the horizon for us all as we look toward our milestone season. We embark on a new-found commitment to the legacy of the CSO with new partnerships, new fundraising and new faces. I have truly enjoyed this year working with Maestro Żółtowski and I will be thrilled to see (and hear) the work he will be doing with the Fenimore Chamber Orchestra. There is always room for more music, in my book. The CSO will welcome Glen Cortese, our interim music director, who joins us with excitement and a wealth of experience as the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra artistic director and close ties to the CSO through his work with the late (and beloved) Chuck Schneider.
Music should always bring people together. It provides a sense of joy and community, and it can help to lift people’s spirits. I believe that the future of live music in our community is bright, the legacy is strong, and I am excited to see what the future holds. A special thank you to everyone who supports the Catskill area non-profits so they can grow, thrive, create, perform and employ year after year.
In addition to the points mentioned above, I would like to add that there is room for more music, more support and more collaboration. I believe we can all work together to make the Catskills a thriving center for live music. Here are a few ideas:
• We can support local music by attending concerts and buying the performers’ music.
• We can volunteer our time.
• We can donate to local music organizations (like the CSO!).
• We can collaborate with other organizations to promote live music.
Executive Director, Catskill Symphony Orchestra