Orchestra of Northern New York honors volunteers
POTSDAM – Two dedicated volunteers were honored by The Orchestra of Northern New York recently for their many years of service to and leadership on the Board of Directors of the North Country’s only year-round professional symphony orchestra.
Vernice N. Church and Timothy L. Savage, both of Canton, retired from the ONNY Board on June 30 with more than 30 years of combined service.Mrs. Church joined the Orchestra Board in 2006. Then Board President Betsy Northrop was ill with cancer and asked Church to take the helm in 2009 to ensure the future well-being of the group, which she did for the next three years.
She continued as a Board director, serving a total of fourteen years. Her colleagues on the ONNY Board recalled that she didn’t say much, but when she did speak people listened.
A retired superintendent of schools in Afton, NY, Church said her years of experience working with school boards helped her realize her greatest accomplishment with ONNY, namely, getting board meetings to run efficiently.
Mrs. Church believes strongly “in the importance of live music, and of the audience member being in the same space with musicians.” Although quick to admit she’s not a musician, she is an accomplished and well-known spinner and knitter.
Tim Savage joined the ONNY Board in 1998 and, after a brief hiatus in early 2000s, he served as Board President from 2011 – 2020. Savage attributes ONNY’s longevity to the “creative genius and energy of Music Director, Maestro Kenneth Andrews” and a number of good people with the passion to do whatever needs to be done. “Building relationships has been vital to ONNY’s survival,” he notes.
People and organizations that have sustained ONNY include the New York State Council on the Arts; SUNY Potsdam and the Crane School of Music; Rande Richardson, Executive Director of the Northern New York Community Foundation; T. Urling “Tom” and the late Mabel Walker, Watertown; the staffs of Watertown’s First Presbyterian Church and Trinity Episcopal Church, as well as the dedicated volunteers of ONNY’s Watertown Advisory Committee.
The greatest challenge for ONNY, according to Savage, has been and continues to be the same as for other orchestras across the country, namely, balancing artistic integrity with fiscal responsibility.
“Thanks to the good graces of donors and our audience, ONNY has been able to thrive for 33 years,” he added.
Kimberly Busch, vocal teacher and theater tech director at Canton Central School, is in her second year as the Orchestra’s Board President.