Broad and High

S9 E2 | CLIP

How Women Shaped The Columbus Symphony Orchestra

Columbus women played a big role in the Columbus Little Orchestra. That was the predecessor to today’s Columbus Symphony Orchestra. Historian Doreen Uhas Sauer shows us how women answered the call and helped save Columbus’s symphony.

AIRED: October 14, 2021 | 0:09:05
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

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>> I AM SO PRIVILEGED TO BE ABLE

TO INTERVIEW THE TWO OF YOU

BECAUSE, TODAY WE'RE TALKING

ABOUT AN ORGANIZATION THAT SAVED

AN ORGANIZATION.

AND I'M WONDERING IF I COULD

START WITH YOU SANDY, JUST TALK

ABOUT WHAT THE ORGANIZATION IS

WERE TALKING ABOUT --

>> WELL WERE TALKING ABOUT THE

WOMEN WHO WERE INVOLVED IN

CREATING AND HAVE BEEN

SUPPORTING THE COLUMBUS

SYMPHONY.

IT'S CURRENT NAME, FOR --

SEVENTY YEARS.

WHICH IS AN AMAZING THOUGHT,

THAT HERE WE ARE AND WE'RE

SITTING IN AN ARCHIVE THAT HAS

REALLY DOCUMENTED WHAT HAPPENED

FROM THE BEGINNING AND HOW IT

HAS GROWN AND HOW MUCH ITS MEANT

TO PEOPLE.

>> THERESA, COULD YOU GIVE A

LITTLE MORE DETAIL ABOUT THE

BEGINNING AND THE IMPORTANCE OF

IT.

>> IT WAS FOUNDED PRETTY MUCH

STANDARDLY BY CITY FATHERS

AROUND 1941.

AND IT WAS MORE OR LESS BIRTHED

FULL GROWN.

THEY STARTED IN AN ORCHESTRA

WITH PROFESSIONAL MUSICIANS AND

THEY HIRED A FIRST CLASS

CONDUCTOR, IZLER SOLOMON.

AND THEN IT GARNERED THE SUPPORT

OF THE WOMEN'S ASSOCIATION OF

THE PHILHARMONIC, THEY WERE

KNOWN THEN.

WHO WOULD TRY TO RAISE MONEY

THROUGH VARIOUS MEANS AND

SUPPORT THEM.

>> I GUESS IN LOOKING THROUGH

THE MANY SCRAPBOOKS THAT HAVE

BEEN OUT, AND THIS IS JUST A

FRACTION OF THEM.

IT'S VERY EASY TO SEE THAT THERE

ARE LUNCHEONS AND THERE ARE

LOT'S OF PEOPLE WITH HATS AND

GLOVES ON, THE REQUIRED FASHION

MODE OF THE DAY.

AND -- THAT SORT OF LED PERHAPS

TO WHAT, SANDY, IT'S KIND OF IN

FRONT OF YOU AND IT'S ABOUT

USING HISTORIC THEMES AND

FASHION SHOW.

>> SO CLEARLY THERE HAVE BEEN A

LOT OF FASHION SHOWS THAT WERE

USED TO UNITE DIFFERENT SYMPHONY

UNITS AND HAVE A PROGRAM THAT

THEY ALL COULD ENJOY TOGETHER.

AND CERTAINLY MUSIC WAS A PART

OF THEM WITHOUT ANY QUESTION,

AND IN FACT IN OUR PARTICULAR

UNIT WE WOULD SPONSOR AN ANNUAL

LUNCHEON.

WHERE WE WOULD HAVE -- SOME OF

THE SYMPHONY MEMBERS AND THEIR

STUDENTS PLAY FOR US, BUT THEN

THERE WOULD BE A FASHION SHOW.

AND WE ALSO WOULD HAVE A SILENT

AUCTION SO THAT WE COULD BE

RAISING MONEY THAT WE COULD GIVE

TO THE SYMPHONY.

SO IT WAS ALWAYS SORT OF A

COMBINATION, BUT THERE'VE BEEN

SO MANY OTHER FUNDRAISING EVENTS

THAT DIDN'T INVOLVE THE HATS AND

GLOVES.

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THE LECTURES OF NOTE WERE

SPONSORED BY THE WOMEN'S

ASSOCIATION OF THE COLUMBUS

SYMPHONY, AND WAS HELD IN THE

OHIO THEATRE.

AND THERE WAS A SERIES AND YOU

COULD BUY A SEASON SUBSCRIPTION

TO THEM. AND THEY WOULD BRING IN

CELEBRITIES AND HAVE THEM TALK

ABOUT ALL KINDS OF THINGS.

I MEAN -- FOR EXAMPLE HERE IS

RAY BOLGER TALKED ABOUT HIS

WORLD.

CELESTE HOLM, JUST ASK ME.

BUT THEN ALSO HERE'S

THOMAS HOVING, TALKING ABOUT THE

TOMB OF TUTANKHAMUN, SO IT WAS A

REAL VARIETY.

>> A SMORGASBORD?

>> YES, AND THEY WERE SELLOUTS.

AND WE HAD LOTS OF OTHER WAYS

THAT WOMEN COULD BE INVOLVED,

BUT COULD INVOLVE THE REST OF

THE COMMUNITY AS WELL.

>> AND WE ALSO HAVE LIKE THIS

LITTLE BOOKLET HERE.

WHICH IS ABOUT THE CANTERBURY

UNIT, WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT

THE UNITS, AND THEIR

ORGANIZATION.

AND WHAT WOULD'VE BEEN THEIR

RULE IN A SEASON OF THE

ORCHESTRA, OR PRECEDING IT?

>> WELL, I THINK THE UNITS WERE

REALLY A WONDERFUL WAY FOR A

VERY EXTENSIVE ORGANIZATION TO

HAVE SOME SMALLER GROUPS THAT

PLAYED A ROLE IN CARRYING OUT

THE MISSION, OF THE WOMEN'S

ASSOCIATION.

>> AND I THINK THAT IN THAT

SMALLER GROUP PEOPLE COULD COME

UP WITH IDEAS, BUT THEY ALL THEN

COULD JOIN THEIR IDEAS AND WORK

TOGETHER ON ALL KINDS OF

PROJECTS.

FOR FUNDRAISING AND THE

VOLUNTEERISM HAS BEEN EXTENSIVE

THROUGH THE YEARS.

>> THEY WERE SO ACTIVE THAT WHEN

THE PHILHARMONIC DISBANDED THEY

INSISTED ON STAYING TOGETHER.

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IN 1949, THEY WERE RUNNING A

DEFICIT.

THEY HAD NOT BEEN ABLE TO MAKE

ENDS MEET -- SO AT THAT POINT

THE CITY FATHERS GOT TOGETHER,

THE BOARD MEMBERS AND SAID “WERE

NOT GOING TO BE THROWING ANY

MORE MONEY AT THIS, BUT WE WILL

PAY YOUR DEBTS. AND YOU'LL HAVE

TO DISBAND” THE WOMEN'S

ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILHARMONICS

SAID “OH NO, WE WON'T GO” AND SO

THEY STAYED.

AND FOR THE YEARS OF FORTY-NINE,

FIFTY, AND EARLY FIFTY-ONE THEY

WERE CONTINUING TO HAVE CARD

PARTIES, FASHION SHOWS, ALL THE

WAYS THAT THEY RAISED MONEY BUT

THEY WERE DONATING IT TOWARDS

SCHOLARSHIPS -- FOR MUSIC

STUDENTS.

THEN GEORGE HARDESTY AND THE

GROUP OF THE ADMINISTRATION

DECIDED THEY COULD SWING A SMALL

ORCHESTRA.

IT WASN'T GOING TO BE THE

PHILHARMONIC.

IT WASN'T GOING TO BE A

PROFESSIONAL ORCHESTRA BUT IT

WAS GOING TO BE A PROFESSIONAL

ORCHESTRA --SO MUCH AS THEY

WOULD BE UNION RATE MUSICIANS

BUT THEY WOULDN'T BE -- HAVE

FULL TIME SALARIES.

SO THAT WAS HOW THE COLUMBUS

LITTLE SYMPHONY WAS FORMED.

AND THEN THERE HAD BEEN A GRANT

FROM THE TELL, THAT WAS A LARGE

SUM OF MONEY AROUND 1978, I

THINK, AND THAT MADE THEM DECIDE

TO BE ABLE TO HAVE MORE FULL

TIMERS.

FROM THAT POINT ON WE WERE A

PROFESSIONAL ORCHESTRA AGAIN,

AFTER A LAPSE OF MAYBE FORTY,

FIFTY YEARS BUT BY THE TIME WE

HAD REACHED THE YEAR

2000 GRADUALLY AND INCREMENTALLY

THE ORCHESTRA THAT HAD BEEN, HAD

BEEN RECREATED AS THE FULL TIME

PROFESSIONAL ORCHESTRA.

>> ONE OF THE THINGS I NOTICED

IN GOING THROUGH SCRAPBOOKS, AND

I THINK I WAS ONLY FOUR PAGES

INTO LOOKING WERE THE NUMBER OF

WOMAN WHO WERE SO WELL KNOWN AND

THEY ARE STILL WELL KNOWN.

AND I'M THINKING YOU KNOW THERE

WAS ELEANOR GELPY.

THERE WAS MARY BISHOP, WHO LATER

ACTUALLY SAVES THE OHIO THEATRE

TO A GREAT EXTENT.

NOT JUST SAVING THE ORCHESTRA

NOW NOW, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT

SAVING THE HOME.

>> THE PHYSICAL THEATER.

>> FOR AN ORCHESTRA >> YES.

>> WHEN IT BECAME APPARENT THAT

THE COLUMBUS SYMPHONY AT

VETERANS MEMORIAL WASN'T GOING

TO CONTINUE, BUT AT THE SAME

TIME THE OHIO THEATRE WAS IN

DANGER OF BEING RAISED.

IT TOOK A LOT OF EFFORT, BUT IT

TURNED OUT WITH A WONDERFUL

OUTCOME THAT THE WOMEN AND MEN

CAME TOGETHER AND REALLY WORKED

HARD TO SAVE THE OHIO THEATRE.

THERE WAS A BIG PUSH FROM THE

WOMEN TO MAKE SURE THAT

HAPPENED.

>> AND LOOKING BACK AT ALL OF

THIS.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE

LEGACIES OF ALL OF THIS HISTORY,

AND THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS GROUP

TO WHERE WE ARE TODAY, AND

WHERE -- THE SYMPHONY HOPES TO

BE IN THE FUTURE?

>> I DO THINK THAT -- IN MANY

WAYS THE COLUMBUS SYMPHONY MAY

HAVE A UNIQUE ORIGIN STORY

BECAUSE GENERALLY MOST OF THESE

ORCHESTRAS WERE BEGUN BY CIVIC

MINDED CITY LEADERS WHO WANTED

TO HAVE THIS CULTURAL THING FOR

THEIR COMMUNITY AND -- OFTEN IN

THE WAY OF STATUS AND THIS

ORCHESTRA WAS BEGUN BECAUSE

WOMEN DUG THEIR HEELS IN.

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AND DECIDED NO.

THE MEN HAVE FAILED, WE ARE

GOING TO PICK IT UP.

WE'RE GOING TO START SMALL, AND

WE'RE GOING TO BUILD IT.

THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT WOMEN IN

THAT DAY AND THERE'S A

PERSISTENCE.

>> TENACIOUS.

>> YES, A TENACIOUS QUALITY OF,

WE WANT THIS, NOT FOR THE

ACCOLADES AND NOT FOR THE GLORY

BUT FOR OUR CHILDREN.

WE WANT THIS FOR A LEGACY.

FOR OUR CITY.

>> VERY WELL PUT.

>> THE LEGACY REALLY IS EMBODIED

IN ALL OF THIS.

YOU KNOW MUSIC IS THE HEART OF

SO MANY OF PEOPLE'S LIVES, AND

NOW ITS REALLY COME TO MEAN SO

MUCH FOR THE WHOLE COMMUNITY TO

HAVE THE KIND OF VARIETY WE

HAVE.

WE HAVE YOUNG PEOPLES CONCERTS,

WE HAVE CLASSICAL MUSIC SERIES,

WE HAVE PICNIC AT THE POPS.

AND IT'S A REAL COMMUNITY GEM.

A COMMUNITY ASSET, AND WE ALL

ARE THE BENEFICIARIES OF THE

HISTORY THAT THESE WOMEN REALLY

PROMOTED FROM THE BEGINNING.

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