Supporters Like You - Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Supporters Like You

Read about supporters who are ensuring that the music plays on.

Harvey Cohen and Michael Tardif

Harvey Cohen and Michael Tardif were so excited when Strathmore opened in February 2005 as the second home of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. They were delighted to have “a great orchestra and world-class concert hall” so close to their home in Bethesda. Harvey and Michael quickly became BSO subscribers, and in 2010 they relocated right next to Strathmore. “Now we walk to concerts, and the music follows us home. We are very spoiled!”

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Harvey, a hydrogeologist, studies piano; his husband Michael, an architect, studies voice. Both are passionate about music, especially live performance in a beautiful concert hall with state-of-the-art acoustics. “There is nothing like the experience of live performance,” says Harvey. “There is nowhere else you can go to hear quiet, unamplified music.” To which Michael adds, “For the price of a ticket, you have something that stays with you forever. I live for those performances that last a lifetime.” Favorite BSO moments include Bernstein’s MASS, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (anytime!) and Act 1 of Die Walküre during the 2011 Wagner centenary.

Harvey and Michael believe that everyone, especially children, should have the opportunity to hear and perform music. You learn to “listen carefully, absorb the music, soak it in.” They know that musical training develops critical thinking and communication skills and note how well-spoken and poised young musicians are. Both agree that OrchLab, OrchKids and other BSO education and outreach programs are essential.

Harvey grew up in Queens, regularly attending musical and theatrical performances in New York City, both as a student and with his family. His mother was an amateur flutist with the Queens Symphony Orchestra, and he has played the piano and sung in choruses since childhood. Michael grew up in rural Maine, where opportunities to study music or experience live performance were more limited. He has special memories of listening to symphony and opera recordings with his family and enjoying live performances of touring chamber ensembles at his school.

“My life is so enriched by classical music,” Harvey says. “I can’t imagine a world without it. Exposure is so important!” Michael had no idea how difficult it is to become a world-class musician until he began studying voice. This experience has deepened his appreciation of what professional singers and musicians do, especially the mastery of both the technical demands and emotional expression that opera singers must achieve to sing and act simultaneously.

“Imagine hearing Mozart, Brahms or Beethoven live in their day,” says Harvey. “It’s still exciting to hear their music live. Now everything is accessible through technology, but no recording can come close to live performance. Part of hearing is feeling—it’s a visceral connection.” He delights in being surprised by unexpected musical interpretations, especially when performers take advantage of the acoustical differences between the Strathmore and Meyerhoff concert halls.

To give these experiences to future generations, Harvey and Michael have made a bequest to the BSO. “You can’t take it with you, but you can give the amazing gift of music! Live performance is ephemeral. If you’re not there in the moment, it’s gone. You have to make it possible for other people to have that experience.”

“You can’t take it with you, but you can give the amazing gift of music! Live performance is ephemeral. If you’re not there in the moment, it’s gone. You have to make it possible for other people to have that experience.”

Harvey Cohen and Michael Tardif, BSO Supporters

Hosea T. Chew

Over thirty years ago, Hosea Chew heard the BSO live for the first time when Leontyne Price sang “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess. “To this day, she is the only person who could sing it for me,” he says. That evening launched his passion for the BSO’s artistry and an enduring respect for the BSO’s commitment to the community.

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As longtime Director of Administration for the Baltimore City Council President, Hosea is deeply involved in civic life and well aware of the vital role of the BSO as a cultural leader.

Music has been a transformational force in Hosea’s life since childhood. He sang in school and church choirs and remembers many influential teachers who encouraged him along the way. Formal training was unavailable, and by ninth grade Hosea didn’t know how to read music when his family moved to Baltimore. It was Miss Jones at Cherry Hill Junior High who gave her time after school, teaching him to read music and play the piano. This opened new opportunities, and Hosea began playing for his church choir. He then saw and heard a pipe organ at another church and knew immediately: “I want to be up there.” Hosea learned to play and has been a church organist ever since. Through high school, college and beyond, he has sung, played and traveled with choirs.

In 2010, Hosea fell in love with the OrchKids students and program after seeing a performance. Wishing this program had been available when he was young, Hosea actively supports OrchKids and the BSO.

He sees what the BSO does for the community—how the orchestra “goes outside the walls to help families and kids” in so many ways. In the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death, Hosea was very moved when BSO musicians asked to perform a free community concert at his church.

When Hosea heard about the Legato Circle and the centennial challenge campaign, he was prompted to make a legacy gift. “As a child, I didn’t have resources to pay for studies, but I was blessed over the years because of all I was able to do musically. Music is a life changer—it kept me off the streets, doing things I like doing, meeting folks. Music helped me through difficult periods in my life and opened many doors along the way.” Music allowed Hosea to see the world, and he wants other kids to have the opportunities he had.

Hosea has designated the BSO as a beneficiary of his life insurance policy, and he hopes his gift will inspire other donors to think about the future. In Hosea’s words, “I would like to see more people who look like me in the Legato Circle. We can’t rely solely on others to take care of our kids. Music provides a foundation for the good life that everyone deserves. Let’s pay it forward for generations to come.”

David Nickels and Gerri Hall

David Nickels and Gerri Hall met 30 years ago singing in the National Presbyterian Church choir. David’s father was a Foreign Service officer and sang in choruses; his mother was a concert pianist. Gerri grew up in rural South Dakota and studied clarinet. Her father farmed and directed choirs, and her family was active in local concerts. Music remained central throughout their careers, his with the State Department, hers in Transportation and Safety.

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David and Gerri credit the BSO in co-founding Strathmore: “We never expected the orchestra to land in our backyard!” The first time David heard a live professional orchestra, it was the BSO. After retiring, he became one of the first volunteer ushers when Strathmore opened in 2005. David and Gerri immediately subscribed and have increased their annual support over the years. They are Strathmore Governing Members and frequently attend both Strathmore and Meyerhoff events. “For us, being actively involved with the BSO means supporting it with our time, talents and resources. Our personal connections with musicians, staff, GM’s, and other donors and subscribers are especially meaningful.”

David and Gerri have made a bequest through their will, designating a percentage of the remainder of their estate to the BSO. “Our legacy gift is intended to express heartfelt thanks to our BSO ‘family’ for the enormous impact it has had, and continues to have, in our lives,” says the couple. “This arrangement demonstrates our philanthropic commitment and allows for economic uncertainties.”

Gerri was “on cloud nine” after performing in a Rusty Musicians performance in 2011. She attended the next BSO Academy and has participated every year since. They are also very committed to OrchKids, OrchLab and all BSO outreach and education activities, including Musical Mondays. “In truth, our annual investment in the orchestra is self-serving,” David says, “given how much we love hearing the BSO play and all that Gerri has gained from her Academy experiences.”

They love their front row seats at Strathmore, saying, “We hope that our gift inspires others to make the BSO part of their legacies too. The BSO gives so much to Baltimore, Montgomery County and the surrounding communities. We want the orchestra and its members to thrive so we can enjoy them for many more years!” 

“We hope that our gift inspires others to make the BSO part of their legacies too. The BSO gives so much to Baltimore, Montgomery County and the surrounding communities. We want the orchestra and its members to thrive so we can enjoy them for many more years!”

David Nickels and Gerri Hall, BSO Supporters

Beth Horton

“To help the BSO continue to delight, challenge and be part of the lives of future generations, I have included the BSO in my estate plans.”

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Beth Horton’s earliest memory of going to a concert was when she was four and a half years old. She can still remember the auditorium in Pacific Grove, California, where her mother would take her and her younger sister to hear music and to see plays. Beth also has fond memories of the weekly music broadcast programs over the intercom when she was in 3rd through 5th grade at Ursa Major Elementary School, Fort Richardson, Alaska. However, the moment that truly sealed music as part of her life was in 1962, when she watched The Magnificent Rebel, a biography of Ludwig van Beethoven, on the Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. Beth notes, “I was, and all these many decades later, still am, blown away by Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.”

The BSO became part of Beth’s life in the 1980s. Friends invited her to go to a BSO concert with them because they had an extra ticket. She then started going occasionally on her own, which led her to becoming a season subscriber and eventually an annual fund donor. Beth states, “Since first attending the BSO, one of the things I love most about the symphony is that it pushes me out of my musical comfort zone by helping me rethink the works of composers I had previously passed off and by introducing me to music from new composers.” And, in 2014, the BSO inspired her response to a midterm exam for a class she was taking on the history of movies. One of the questions on the exam was to describe two propaganda films from World War II. One of the films Beth chose was Sergei Eisenstein’s Alexander Nevsky, a film she had seen the previous year when the BSO performed Sergei Prokofiev’s score as the movie was shown.

To help the BSO continue to delight, challenge and be part of the lives of future generations, Beth has included the BSO in her estate plans. We extend our deep gratitude to Beth and to all the Legato Circle donors who have taken this important step for the future of the BSO.

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