An oil industry executive stationed here many years ago once commented that the existence of a symphony orchestra in a community made it easier to recruit top management talent. He agreed that schools, medical facilities, lifestyle, and housing price and availability were probably the major things looked at by someone deciding whether to accept a transfer to Guam. But a symphony could be the tipping point.
Guam has one, a very good one in fact, and it has been around for 46 years. It has the support of some of our major companies, like DFS, the Bank of Guam, Hawaiian Rock Products and IT&E. And under the capable direction of Dr. Stephen Bednarzyk this aggregation of volunteer musicians has never sounded better.
Saturday night and again Sunday afternoon they presented an “American Salute” that featured Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber and Morton Gould, but also delved into popular American big band music, movie themes and a rousing rendition of John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever.”
It was all conducted by an off-island guest, Eden Jeon, who fittingly—given that the one millionth visitor arriving last week was from Korea—is the conductor of the Korea Chamber Ensemble. The guest soloist, Minkyung Lora Chung, is also from Korea. Our conductor, Dr. Bednarzyk, will complete this international exchange in December when he flies to Seoul to conduct the Korea Chamber Ensemble.
Classical music may not be your cup of tea, but sort of like a public library where you may not read every book, most agree that a good, well-rounded symphony is something to which we can all point with pride. Since 2000, when Dr. Bednarzyk arrived, fewer and fewer off-island musicians have been needed to augment the orchestra for concerts. “Music programs in the public and private schools are growing and are adding to the talent pool,” said this weekend’s program booklet written by Helen Middlebrook. “The orchestra is now entirely home grown.”
Delegate Madeleine Bordallo, who helped found the Guam Symphony Society in 1967, was on hand for the Saturday evening gala and was obviously proud that the organization she and Carmen Dela Cruz started has continued. “I’m so pleased that it’s still going,” she said.
Variety congratulates Dr. Bednarzyk, current symphony board chairman Cliff Guzman and the rest of the directors, and most especially the musicians who make up the current Guam Symphony Orchestra. Thanks for making Guam a better place to be.