The Anniversary of Gerhardt Zimmermann’s Passing

This is what the CSO staff has to say …

On this day, at this time, and one year ago—June 10th, 2023, at 10:38 am—our beloved maestro, Gerhardt Zimmermann, passed away unexpectedly. Gerhardt’s death was a shock to the Canton Symphony Orchestra and the greater orchestral music communities, marking the end of an era of superb music-making spanning nearly 44 years in Canton and over 50 years across the world. This past season was entirely dedicated to his memory, still featuring his name and likeness on all materials as a demonstration of mourning and reverence. Each moment we shared together was an opportunity to reflect on the profound impact he had on all of us: some of those moments were incredibly difficult, but most were so full of love, light, and goodness that they fueled an unprecedented drive to honor his legacy with the best of our collective abilities.

We began to honor Gerhardt’s memory with a memorial concert presented and performed by those who were most impacted by him. Together, we witnessed a celebration unlike any other in our recent memory, performing Gerhardt’s favorite pieces and welcoming six conductors: JoAnn Falletta, Stefan Sanders, John Vincent Russo, Peter Stafford Wilson, Wesley Schulz, and Matthew Jenkins Jaroszewicz, joining six soloists: Nathan Olson (violin), Norman Krieger (piano), Jacquelyn Culpepper (soprano), Sara Davis Buechner (piano), the Canton Symphony Chorus, and The Dancing Wheels (recording with live speech from executive director, Mary Verdi-Fletcher). Over eight hundred members of the CSO family were in attendance, and we were especially honored to be joined by Gerhardt’s immediate family, who shared experiences of his impact on them as well.

The concert kick-started the Gerhardt Zimmermann Memorial Campaign, announcing a goal of $250,000 to establish an endowment fund in his name. The returns received by this fund would be enough to fund a presenting sponsorship of a MasterWorks concert in his name forever—a fitting representation of this community acknowledging the significance of his impact. Roughly a week later, we received news from the estate of Mr. William P. Blair, III that $100,000 would be committed as a matching gift to the fund with a deadline of June 30, 2024 (the end of the fiscal year). The response to this announcement was immediate and profound, and today we are proud to announce that in just 10 months, we raised $230,258. Considering the match, we now have just $9,871 left to raise. All who contribute to the campaign, regardless of amount, will be named on the Legacy Wall—a monument to Gerhardt to be constructed in the Hoover Family Gallery upon conclusion of the campaign to immortalize his history with the organization and those who support the fund.

To say the response to this campaign was impressive would be an understatement. Thanks to you, the CSO family, we have achieved something truly remarkable for this mid-sized regional orchestra. Thanks to you, we are well on our way to propelling ourselves into a future of sustainability, fueled by continuously innovative and high-quality programming that enriches, educates, entertains, and challenges audiences while honoring the traditions and history that got us to this point. If we have learned anything over the past four years, it is that the key to a nonprofit orchestra’s success in modern society is to find a home somewhere in the middle of the aforementioned ideas. This lesson has only been further driven home by cherishing what Gerhardt has left us with: an organization with a group of musicians, staff, and board of directors that are united in service to our constituency and to music: a philosophy that has kept us around since 1938 and will continue to lead us into the future.

As we look toward the horizon of a new year, a new season of firsts, we cannot help but feel inspired by the opportunity to write the next chapter of this organization’s storied history. This moment is not just a transition but a celebration of our past, present, and future. It is a chance to build upon the legacy left by Gerhardt Zimmermann, to innovate while honoring our rich traditions, and to continue enriching our community through the transformative power of music. With renewed energy and a shared vision, we are poised to embark on this exciting journey, confident that the best is yet to come for this fine orchestra.

“In life, if you are going to do it, give it all you can. Live it. Breathe it. Sing it. Enjoy it. Love it. Sing, sing, sing…” – Gerhardt Zimmermann

Challenge accepted, Gerhardt. Here we go!

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