GALLIPOLIS — The Ariel-Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre recently announced the beginning of its “Maestro for a Moment” competition featuring Rio Grande Mayor Matt Easter, Holzer Health System Internal Medicine Physician Dr. Bashar Atai and Pleasant Valley Hospital Emergency Medicine Dr. Timothy Crouch.
“Maestro for a Moment” is the annual campaign of The Ohio Valley Symphony, resident orchestra of the Ariel-Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre, to promote awareness of symphonic music and raise funds to support live OVS performances on the historic Ariel Opera House stage.
With an emphasis on the “fun” part of fundraising, three candidates from the community are selected to go and solicit money any way they see fit. From the sublime to the ridiculous (costumes and props are encouraged but not required), “Maestro for a Moment” candidates have ridden bikes, hiked trails, conducted the cattle in the pasture and collected the support of their friends and colleagues to keep live professional music on the Ariel-Dater Hall stage.
A major part of “Maestro for a Moment” campaigns in the past have relied on letter writing, but in recent years Maestro hopefuls have turned to social media to boost their reach. The Ariel webpage arieltheatre.org puts the candidates front and center with easy “Paypal Donate Now” buttons to make tax deductible donations quick and easy.
In preparation for the event, candidates are issued their own batons and also receive a private conducting lesson from the OVS conductor, Maestro Ray Fowler.
Candidates are allowed to raise funds right up through intermission of the concert, with the results tallied during the second half of the concert. The winner is announced at the end of the concert. The prize? The candidate bringing in the highest tally gets the honor of conducting Leroy Anderson’s beloved “Sleigh Ride” at The Ohio Valley Symphony’s annual Christmas Show on Dec. 3.
Rio Grande Mayor Matt Easter is father of two and the husband of Jennifer Easter. He attended North Gallia High School and the University of Rio Grande. He is currently employed by the State of Ohio and in his fourth term as mayor of Rio Grande.
“The arts are very important to my family and me. We attend art gallery showings and live music concerts regularly,” said Easter. “I played trumpet in the seventh grade and have seen Grateful Dead in concert six times. Civilized societies are formed on the backs of all forms of art mediums.”
Dr. Bashar Atai has worked with the Holzer Health System for 19 years. He is a Gallia native and has three sons with his wife, Jennifer. Atai said he feels honored to have seen his oldest son perform in the Ohio State High School Band. Atai said he appreciates music, and while not formally trained, can play a “mean game of Guitar Hero.”
Dr. Crouch said: “As an emergency room and trauma doctor at Pleasant Valley Hospital, my mind has to be sharp with both technical and scientific skill. I can say from experience that musicians also require very similar skills. Individuals who play music are challenged to learn self-discipline, goal setting, a sense of teamwork, memory skills, and coordination — skills that will extend well into the future and in all aspects of life.”
Crouch said he began playing piano at the age of nine and his school in the fourth grade provided him the opportunity to learn bass viol for free. At the age of 14, his minister’s wife allowed him to borrow an accordion and Crouch was soon playing it as well. Crouch said these experiences are in part why he and his wife support the arts.
Potential candidates aspiring to step up on the podium next year and be a part of a live orchestra performance can contact Executive Director Lora Snow, Music Director Ray Fowler or Ariel-Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre Board President Paul Simon.