May 26, 2016

Outstanding volunteers recognized at annual event

On Monday May 16, the RPO honored 12 individuals and one community partner at the 24th Annual Volunteer Recognition Awards at Hochstein Performance Hall. Honorees received a certificate of achievement and framed photograph of the Orchestra, signed by Music Director Ward Stare. The RPO is pleased to have more than 600 individuals in our volunteer base. Check out a photo gallery from the event on the RPO's Facebook page.

Congratulations to the following outstanding volunteers!

2016 Honorees:
Volunteer Award winners with RPO leadership
c Erich Camping

Brianna Nance, Youth Volunteer
Volunteer since 2014

High school student Brianna is a volunteer for the RPO's OrKIDStra concert series. She is also the daughter of RPO musicians Wes and Shannon Nance. Brianna has volunteered her time at every OrKIDStra concert this season, helping out at the pre-concert activities. Brianna arrives early to set up, helps runs the activities, and stays after to clean up.

Sigrun Miller, Youth Orchestra
Volunteer since 2014

Sigrun's daughter is in the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. Sigrun has been particularly resourceful in two major RPYO fundraising activities: soliciting program ads for concert program books and securing donations from businesses for the annual gala fundraiser. She is also a leader to other RPYO parents, and served as chair of the gala committee this season.

Barbara DiFiore, General Office
(L to R) Music Director Ward Stare,
Board of Directors Chairman Jules Smith, and
Interim President & CEO Ralph Craviso presented the awards.
c Erich Camping

Volunteer since 1999

Barbara has worn many hats as an RPO volunteer, from usher and rear guard attendee to special events and general office support. She frequently covers the front desk for our office administrator. She has been a dependable part of the team, and her disposition at the front desk creates a welcoming image for visitors.

Cheri Emler, Special Projects
Guests enjoyed a dessert reception after the awards
c Erich Camping

Volunteer since 2010

This past holiday season, Cheri spearheaded an initiative to replace the Nutcracker figurines in the Eastman Theatre Oval Lobby, which had been damaged after years of display in the bustling lobby. Cheri successfully organized a fundraiser to replace the cost of new Nutcrackers by selling glass roses at RPO concerts in February and March. Cheri and her team of recruits helped raise $1600.00 to offset the cost of seven new nutcracker figurines.

Allison Barkowski, Theatre
Volunteer since 2005

As a Gibbs Street Assistant, Allison is responsible for helping patrons attending concerts in and out of the theatre safely. Many of the patrons arriving at the entrance to the theatre at Gibbs Street require assistance due to medical conditions or simply are elderly. Allison takes great pride in assisting any patron assuring their escort that they have been left in good hands. She is also a leader to other volunteers.

Carol Shulman, Rochester Philharmonic League
Volunteer since 2005

Carol served as League President for three years, from 2011 to 2014, and also served two terms on the board of directors. She brought her dedication and talents as an educator and natural leader to RPL volunteer efforts, where she served as chair of the Young Artist Auditions and the Orchestra and Staff Appreciation Luncheon, escorted thousands of children into the Theatre for the elementary school concerts, helped coordinate the Music, Munch, & Mingle Series with RPO musicians, and assisted in organizing the League’s annual excursion to see the Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Christopher Pipa, Fundraiser
Joined RPO Board of Directors in 2014

Chris Pipa has been committed to finding new and innovative ways to increase revenue for this organization. Last summer, he and his wife Elaine hosted a special event at Penfield Country Club that featured cocktails, dinner, and a special performance by our orchestra. That event has since evolved into an annual “Concert on the Green Series,” which will feature similar events at area country clubs this summer.

Dr. Stephen Rosenfeld, Board of Directors
Joined RPO Board of Directors in 2013

Dr. Rosenfeld is retired from the University of Rochester Medical Center, where he now holds the title of professor emeritus. While he and his wife Elise have been involved with the RPO for a number of years as subscribers and volunteers, Dr. Rosenfeld officially joined the Board of Directors in 2013. When the board is charged with an important task, Dr. Rosenfeld is often the first one to volunteer. He energizes the board and our donors to take more active roles in the organization and leads by example. He is past chair of the governance committee and also a member of the Patron Services and Marketing committee.

Mark Siwiec, Ambassador
Joined RPO Board of Directors in 2012

As a realtor with over 25 years of experience, Mark brings his talents as a relationship-builder to the RPO, where he serves as board secretary and is a member of the governance committee. He has a special interest in outreach, and is always spreading the good word to the community. In Mark’s own words, the RPO is the cultural jewel of the Rochester region. His favorite RPO memory is hearing Juliana Athayde performing Arvo Part's Fratres at a fundraising event several years ago. He considers it a privilege to work on the RPO Board, creating a more solid platform from which the musicians can share their world class talent.

Constellation Brands, Community Partner
Longtime supporter of the RPO

Constellation Brands has been a longtime supporter of the RPO, primarily on the summer concert series. They will serve as official sponsor for the annual CMAC concert on Saturday, July 9. They have also committed serving as an associate sponsor for the American Music Festival in the 2016-17 season.

Anna Steltenpohl, Education
Joined the RPO in 2008

A member of the orchestra since 2008, oboe and English horn player Anna Steltenpohl is also making her mark as a volunteer for the RPO’s education department. This season, she served as chair of the 28th annual RPO Musicians’ Awards for Outstanding Music Educators, which commends local teachers for their dedication to the arts and commitment to their students. Anna also regularly visits the education department during her free time between orchestra rehearsals and teaching at Eastman, among many other roles, to see if there is anything she can do to help.

Juliana Athayde, RPO Musician
The Caroline W. Gannett & Clayla Ward Chair
Joined the RPO in 2005

Juliana works tirelessly to promote the orchestra and our city in any way she can. Whenever possible, she and her husband Principal Oboe Erik Behr (The Dr. Jacques M. Lipson Chair) spend time with RPO guest artists and conductors to make sure they have a wonderful experience in Rochester and want to come back again.

She also meets and forges relationships with community leaders and current and potential board members to advocate for the power of music and to highlight what the RPO offers to our community. This season, she volunteered to play an integral role in an annual appeal, personally reaching out to current and potential donors to demonstrate her passion for the RPO.

Joanna Bassett, Baton of Distinction
Joined the RPO in 1984

The Baton of Distinction is given to an individual who has gone above and beyond the call of duty, and has only been given three times previously. RPO flutist Joanna Bassett has served the orchestra and staff, as well as the board of directors, the Rochester Philharmonic League, and worked tirelessly to elevate the enrichment, recognition and engagement of our volunteers. As a musician, she has rallied her colleagues to take a more active role in the many facets of the RPO. Joanna has said that she remains committed to volunteering because of the wonderful RPO volunteers she has met over the years, whose generosity and dedication she finds awe-inspiring. She built the Volunteer Enrichment Committee from the ground up in 1991, and has worked to present our volunteers with three programs each year since that time ranging from behind-the-scenes events to a musical game show!

Interested in learning more about Volunteer opportunities at the RPO? Contact Kathy Miller, Administrative and Volunteer Coordinator: or (585) 454-7311 X243.

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