Favorite Moments of 2023

As 2023 is coming to a close, we wanted to reflect on some of the amazing music and memories from the past year. We asked some of our staff members, musicians, and board members to share their favorite ProMusica memory from the past year.

Julie Rutter, Board of Trustees:

“Until this season, I don’t think I have ever seen a guest artist slip quietly into the back of the ensemble to play a piece as a member of the group, but I thought it was so cool to spot Caroline Shaw in the back of the violin section during the 2022-23 season finale this spring. She had already appeared as a soloist and composed all three of the pieces on the first half of the program, but the opportunity to play Brahms with ProMusica enticed her back to the stage for the second half. To have such an accomplished artist pay that kind of a compliment to David and our musicians was really a lovely and memorable way to end the season.”

Bill McDonough, Board of Trustees:

“Having Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw perform her compositions with the orchestra was so cool. And then to see her playing in the last row of the second violins for Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 was almost as cool.”

Nat Hickman, Artistic Operations Assistant:

“My favorite highlight this year has been getting to know our guest artists so well! As the Artistic Operations Assistant, I get the privilege of making our guests feel comfortable and welcome to the ProMusica family. Andy Akiho made me feel comfortable, though being my first guest artist. He was extremely compassionate and patient with me as I continue to fit soundly in my role here.”

Lee Shackelford, Board of Trustees:

“ProMusica is known for groundbreaking musical innovation and the best example of that was Andy Akiho performing on his steel pan! Blending while adding a new dimension to the orchestra, his stunning technical skill and energy were breathtaking to see. The sound permeated the hall. Then he charmed us during the post-concert CODA by patiently explaining the steel pan and his unique approach to composing with it. All new and amazing!”

Carolyn Jakubczak, Ticketing & Patron Services Manager:

“My favorite ProMusica moment of 2023 has to be the Soirée with Rhiannon Giddens last January. Not only was it an incredible performance by an insanely talented artist, but it was my first sell-out concert since joining the team. As the ticketing person, that felt like such an accomplishment!”

Susan Quintenz, Board of Trustees:

“Rhiannon Giddens was, of course, fabulous. Memorable as well. Talented and charismatic, she has created a new art form. It was a moment when all of us at the Southern understood were in the company of greatness and ‘once-in-a lifetime’ moment. Her backup band also terrific.”

Lauren Blair, Education & Community Engagement Manager:

“I’ve loved so many things! Simone Porter’s Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1, especially the 2nd movement, reached me deep in my soul. I loved getting to hear from her in the post-concert CODA and learn that during the opening of that 2nd movement she pictures a Northern England landscape and scene from Jayne Eyre! It was so cool and made me want to immediately re-read it.

I have also loved all the education programs, of course! I feel lucky that I get to be on the frontlines seeing the day-to-day impact of music reaching all different ages in fun and meaningful ways. Our theme for Family Library Concerts this season is ‘A Day at the Zoo’ and we have been having so much fun. Another highlight is our Play Us Forward (PUF) program. This year we’ve given all our PUF students a ‘Membership Card’ that offers free access to all ProMusica concerts for them and a guest. One of our 7th graders, Patrick, invited his mom to join him for the October concert and of course she said yes! At the concert she shared with me how Patrick had invited her (apparently he also included a cup of coffee), pictured below, and how much the time with her son meant. So tender!” 


J.D. Mooney, Creative Content Coordinator:

“My favorite moment from my brief four months with ProMusica was seeing Simone Porter play Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1. It was really amazing for me to see a young musician who is so professional and mature. Seeing Simone lead the orchestra with such grace and humility was really inspiring. I also really enjoyed hearing how Simone’s relationship with reading and literature has impacted her storytelling as an artist during the post-concert CODA. I thought this was really interesting because it allowed me to see into her artistic and creative process.”

Eric Kline, Violin & Board of Trustees:

Without a doubt, for me, my favorite moment was the stunning performance of Simone Porter. As she played the opening of the 1st movement, in rehearsal, I said to myself, ‘oh, wow!’ Five simple notes. That did it for me.”

Renee Keller, Principal Timpani & Percussion:

“After many years of discussions, waiting, and fundraising, a generous anonymous donor allowed us to purchase brand new timpani drums. And not just any timpani drums – some of the best in the world, all covered with goat heads. You can imagine my excitement to play them. Rehearsal for our opening concert went great, and David loved the sound. Then, while waiting for the downbeat before our 2023-2024 opening concert (while David and Janet were talking to the audience), POP!!!! One of the heads spontaneously combusted!  It was a fluke incident and unfortunately one of the risks of using natural skin heads. But the show went on, and I still had three fabulous drums to play with. It has been a blast breaking in the new drums.”

Note: the head of the timpani was replaced and you can see it in action during the remainder of the 2023-24 season.

Jenny Magistrelli, Clarinet:

“I had a baby at the beginning of the year, and she has already been to three ProMusica concerts. When she was about 10 weeks old, she got to attend the very beginning of a woodwind quintet Library Concert. Unfortunately, a diaper change, followed by an encounter with a very loud hand dryer, upset her too much to continue attending Mommy’s concert. She attended two of our outdoor summer concerts at seven months, and after the one in Westerville, she got to meet Janet, David, and Katie. She had no idea that she was in the presence of greatness and just stared them down with a rattle in her mouth.”

John Pellegrino, Principal Bass:

“My most memorable ProMusica moment in 2023 just occurred! Garrick Ohlsson’s presence and playing on stage at the Southern Theatre for Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 was a ProMusica highlight. What a way to end 2023 and launch into 2024!”

Janet Chen, CEO:

“It’s getting our fiddle — the rare 1709-10 Gobetti violin, and acquiring such a significant instrument for the organization and for Katie to play is a definite highlight.”