When someone has been in charge of an organization for 30 years, that’s often an indication that the person has had a positive impact and their work has been appreciated. That certainly can be said of David Bowden, music director and conductor of the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic.
The Philharmonic begins its 30th season Saturday, and Bowden, the only music leader it’s ever had, will again be at the reins.
His impact is apparent in multiple ways, such as at the box office and with its budget. When he took over the upstart professional orchestra in 1987, its annual budget was just $76,000. Today, it’s annual budget is $847,000, which has allowed the Philharmonic to expand its offerings, especially music eduation. More importantly, concert attendance has soared from an average of 500 in 1987 to 850-900 today.
The Philharmonic presents about eight ticketed events each year – including talented guest artists – which has increased the quality of life for people who live and work in Bartholomew County. Community benefits have been seen in other ways, too.
Bowden, whose personal mission statement is “Making music saves lives,” launched the orchestra’s music education program in 1988. It reached about 700 children each year. Additionally, the orchestra’s Adventure Concerts attract about 2,500 students from the region. Many children have been positively influenced and encouraged by these musical experiences.
Around each Memorial Day, Bowden leads the Philharmonic in the free, outdoor SALUTE! concert to honor military veterans. The concert has become one of the must-see events each year, and holds a special place in the hearts of many residents.
More recently, Bowden helped launch the two-year-old Cabaret at The Commons series, which features national artists and already has recorded three 400-seat sellouts and nearly a fourth.
This 30th anniversary season will feature a new, world-class Shigeru Kawai Concert Grand Piano, donated by Enkei America Inc. That’s a great addition to the orchestra, and appropriately fitting. Bowden has contributed significantly by playing the right notes and making sweet music for years.