The Springfield Symphony Orchestra has received a special endowment which will help cover some of its cost for the upcoming season. CONTRIBUTED

Springfield Symphony Orchestra receives boost from memorial endowment

While the Springfield Symphony Orchestra has two concerts left in its current season, the 75th season to come is already off to a strong start with the establishment of a new endowment.

The name John Smarelli has been associated with the symphony as a musician, youth symphony conductor and even after his passing with a scholarship in his memory.

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It will endure in yet another way with the announcement of a new endowment in Smarelli’s name.

The endowment was announced at the March 19 youth symphony concert and will be effective in the 2018-2019 season to endow the concertmaster chair.

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It will cover the annual salary of the concertmaster position, currently filled by SuJean Kim, with earnings from invested funds. Orchestra conductor Peter Stafford Wilson said there is hope to further endow the youth symphony conductor position and enhance the scholarship fund, which is now funded through the Mackey Family Foundation.

“It seems fitting that our first endowment drive in nearly a decade would coincide with our 75th anniversary season and bear tribute to this musical giant,” he said.

John Smarelli was a member of the Springfield Symphony for 42 years and passed away in 2005. His sons, David and Mark, continue the family tradition as performers in the symphony.

“I am very excited that the symphony has chosen to honor my father in this way,” said David, who is first violin and assistant concertmaster. “He has been gone for nearly 13 years yet his legacy continues to live on.”

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David said his dad was known as Mr. Music in Springfield for years. In addition to performing with the symphony, he served as assistant conductor and concertmaster for many years.

Besides leading the youth symphony, Smarelli educated young musicians at North High School and Wittenberg University.

“John Smarelli was one of the true architects of this great orchestra,” Wilson said. “He defined string education in the school district and helped establish the Springfield Youth Symphony as a vital component of the orchestra’s mission, instilling in every one of the musicians the notion that great music is a vital commodity in a great city.”

For more information on the endowment, visit the Springfield Symphony Orchestra’s website.

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