Philharmonic names youngest president in 30-year history

LEADING EARLY

An arts organization that in recent years has steered considerable attention to attracting younger ticket buyers has elected the youngest board president in its 30-year history.

Columbus native Sharon Sung Andrews, 29, has been associated with the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic, the city’s professional orchestra, for about 20 years.

She performed for five years as a youngster in the Columbus Indiana Children’s Choir, which regularly appears with the orchestra. She played violin for four years in the Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, performed five years with the strings ensemble, and soloed as a vocalist with the orchestra Dec. 9, 2006 as a Brown Scholarship winner.

Plus, she’s already serving her sixth year as a board member, having just completed a term as vice president.

Mark Pillar, a former board president and the orchestra’s former development director, invited her onto the board.

“I recognized her leadership ability,” Pillar said.

That includes her work with nonprofit organizations such as Mill Race Theatre Company, for which she produced “Peter Pan” in 2012.

Andrews said she has been heartened by the orchestra’s encouragement and mentoring, plus its commitment to youth education programs that constitute nearly 20 percent of its roughly $870,000 annual budget.

Although Andrews did not serve on the orchestra’s organizing committee for Bourbonfest, its new youth-oriented and sold-out fundraiser held earlier this year, she did help behind the scenes to recruit volunteers. She sees that event as a great sign of younger professionals’ interest in the local orchestra.

She sat in a recent meeting to plan next year’s event and was struck by the passion of peers her age.

“The energy behind that meeting was incredible,” she said.

The discussion about younger audience members has been a topic for professional orchestras nationwide in recent years as they have acknowledged that their ticket base has grown older.

The new president sees concerts and the orchestra’s Cabaret at The Commons series as a great outlet for younger listeners.

“I think our generation really likes its live music,” Andrews said. “There’s a sense of community that the millennial generation really seeks out. That experience of a one-time performance together is really important.”

Philharmonic officers

At its annual meeting on Monday, the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic installed new officers for the coming year:

  • Sharon Sung Andrews, president
  • Barry Turner, vice president
  • Therese Copeland, secretary
  • Joe Smith, treasurer

Philharmonic business meeting recap

The Columbus Indiana Philharmonic, which once struggled with a budget deficit, reported that income exceeded expenses by $36,000 during its latest fiscal year, according to its annual report.

Treasurer Joe Smith said the financial finish was made possible by generous donors, increased help from area foundations, and the work of staff and volunteers.

Plus, two Corvette raffles and a robust Cabaret at The Commons series boosted the financial picture, he said.

The orchestra also has enjoyed a 30 percent budget increase — from $640,000 two years ago to $833,000 last year, mostly due to the success of the cabaret series, said Peter King, outgoing board president.

The orchestra also recorded a record number of students in its music education programs, executive director Margaret Powers said.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.