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Britt creates $500,000 orchestra fund

Teddy Abrams leads the Britt Orchestra in this 2019 photo. A new $500,000 artistic fund celebrates Abrams being named Conductor of the Year by Musical America and the orchestra’s 60th anniversary. [Mail Tribune/File photo]

In recognition of Britt Festival Orchestra’s diamond anniversary and its conductor's nationwide honor, Britt Music and Arts Festival is rolling out a $500,000 artistic fund intended to keep the program going for another 60 years.

The nonprofit hopes the fundraising effort will help grow and support orchestra programs after years of trials and in celebration of conductor Teddy Abrams being named Conductor of the Year by Musical America.

“The board is excited for the future of BFO,” said Dominic Campanella, Britt’s board chair.

Britt President and CEO Donna Briggs developed the plan for the fund to commemorate the orchestra’s milestone anniversary and Abrams’ award. The board approved the fund in December.

“The BFO’s not going anywhere, it’s just going to keep getting better,” Campanella added.

The new fund will be managed by a committee that will include Campanella, Abrams, Briggs, new Britt Festival Orchestra General Manager Renia Shterenberg and two community members who "have a love for orchestra“ to be appointed at a later date.

Campanella said the board will make annual considerations for what the orchestra’s needs are.

It could potentially be used to add predictability for musicians ... or to fund new programs based on stakeholder suggestions.

“At this point, everything is to be determined,” Campanella said. “I’m sure Teddy Abrams will have all sorts of creative ideas and suggestions.”

In a prepared statement, Abrams called the fund a “critical ballast for future projects and programs that allow us to bring exceptional innovation, creativity and talent to our beloved Rogue Valley.”

Campanella praised Abrams’ ability to think outside the box during an abbreviated 2021 season hampered by wildfire smoke and COVID-19 restrictions. The orchestra was involved in two experimental pieces: “Brush: Music in the Woodlands,” in which musicians performed along the Jacksonville Woodlands trail system, and a Jacksonville recording for the Soundwalk smartphone app.

“We’ve really rethought the way we can present this type of music,” Campanella said. “It’s remarkable, it’s unique, and we’re all kind of pulling the oars in the same direction.”

For this coming season, Campanella said, Britt wants to avoid season interruptions and give Abrams some predictability, so the 2022 season will run five weeks sooner: June 17 through July 3.

Down the line, the board hopes to help Abrams expand the offerings the orchestra provides.

“Teddy brings some remarkable talent, and that costs money,” Campanella said.

The board is most focused on getting donors who can help the board match Britt Festival Orchestra fund donations, with a goal of expanding it to $1 million within the next two years.

“Our focus right now is less on how we’re going to spend the money and more on how we’re going to grow it,” Campanella said. “I’m confident that our supporters will step up and join.”

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.