The Chair Sponsorship Program: A Microcosm of ProMusica

As you take your seat at a ProMusica concert and read through the program book, you might have noticed in our list of musicians, that almost all of them have a sponsor listed along with their position. As you might imagine, these sponsorships help to support the orchestra and provide a stable foundation for ProMusica and our musicians each season.

But is there more to the story? After all, chair sponsorships aren’t unique to ProMusica – many orchestras have them. However, like so many things at ProMusica, our way of doing things is just a bit different than other places, and in many ways this program encapsulates some of the things that make the entire organization so special.

For starters, while the chair sponsorship program does help to raise funds for the orchestra, it grew out of a tradition of our patrons who underwrote chairs as a way to recognize and honor their family and friends. By the time our 30th anniversary rolled around in 2009, ten of our musicians had sponsors. Fast forward to 2020, and almost all of our musicians now have sponsors (as well as our Music Librarian)! What’s more, almost every one of those sponsors that we had back in 2009 are still supporting today.

To me, this is what’s really at the heart of the program – the long lasting relationships that have developed over the years between our musicians and their sponsors.

Many of our musicians and sponsors have developed deep friendships. They correspond regularly and catch up not only on what happens on the stage, but also what is happening in their lives. Some sponsors host out-of-town musicians in their homes when they are in Columbus for concert weekends. Laughter, food, and drinks are often shared after concerts. At the end of the day, the listing in the program book doesn’t come close to telling the whole story, and is something that we feel is special to ProMusica.

This past weekend we should have held our season finale concerts, and with that our annual chair sponsorship luncheon – where our musicians and chair sponsors gather to spend time together and celebrate the end of the season. Like so many things right now, we weren’t able to be together for the concerts or the luncheon this year. But while we couldn’t gather together in person, our musicians and sponsors are still in touch. There are emails and video messages going back and forth, although there may be more conversations about things happening off the stage these days.

While we have a special sense of pride around our chair sponsorship program, these kinds of connections and friendship are really a microcosm of ProMusica as a whole.

Think back to our last concert that you attended. Before you took your seat and opened your program book, I bet you ran into some friends in the lobby or saw some familiar faces. Maybe folks who have been coming to ProMusica for years, or people who just started attending concerts. Maybe you even invited them, or maybe they introduced you to the orchestra. I’ve seen firsthand what the lobby looks like before the first downbeat, during intermission, and after the final round of applause at our concerts. There are smiles, and laughter, and warmth – and people who are not only happy to be at the concert, but are happy to see each other. There are deep relationships that have developed over many years. I’m sure many of you are still in touch with each other even while we can’t be together right now. It is these relationships and sense of community that really makes ProMusica such a special and unique place.

So the next time you read through the program book and see those musicians and sponsors listed – realize that the shared connections and friendships are why all of us keep coming back. We are grateful for our musicians who share their talents with us and the sponsors who support their work, and we are grateful to each of you who help make ProMusica the special place that it is. Thanks to you all, and we look forward to seeing a lobby full of friends and smiling faces again as soon as we are able.