See below article for photos by Claire Houston.
Members of the now-defunct Gateway Symphony of Staten Island have formed a new orchestra. The Staten Island Philharmonic Orchestra performed its first concert on Aug. 21 at the Noble Maritime Museum to a packed, standing-room-only audience of 200. Former members of the Gateway Symphony who have been working to create the new orchestra include Peggy Wiltrout, Carolyn and Kevin Clark, and Madelaine and Richard Casparie. Conductor Alex Guzman has also been working tirelessly to form the group, according to orchestra members.
Carolyn Clark told Allegro she expects the organization to be supported more from numerous, moderate-sized donations rather than one or two large backers. Wiltrout added that she will also be seeking support from the Music Performance Fund and looks forward to working with Local 802 on all future engagements.
Great reviews in the Staten Island Advance for the initial performance, assistance from various arts organizations on Staten Island including the Richmond Choral Society, and unsolicited individual donations have given these musicians confidence in the project. Their publicity campaign started off with 700 letters to potential donors, applications for grants from the Department of Cultural Affairs and other local arts councils, and fundraising meetings at various banks.
The orchestra will perform five or six concerts a year in different parts of Staten Island. The first performance utilized 15 musicians but future performances will aim to hire about 35.
Clark hopes the orchestra will utilize as many musicians as possible who are based in Staten Island and were former members of the Gateway Symphony.
As she put it, “The idea is to have musicians from Staten Island performing in Staten Island for Staten Islanders.”
The organization is so new that it is still in the process of being incorporated. Tax-deductible donations can be made out to Viva Voce Chamber Ensemble, 14 Brentwood Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10301. Viva Voce has agreed to act as a fiscal conduit for the orchestra.
The group’s next performance is scheduled for Oct. 16 at 3 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 225 St. Paul’s Avenue, Staten Island. For more information about the group or to make a donation, contact Carolyn Clark at (718) 273-3250 or CHclark895@aol.com.
Members of the new Staten Island Philharmonic rehearse before their first concert. Photos by Claire Houston.