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A wonderful asset

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Sunday was a beautiful spring day in the north country. In fact it was just maybe the first warm day of 2013. And on spring days when thoughts drift toward romance, the Orchestra of Northern New York presented “Two Timeless Tales of Love,” a concert featuring Leonard Bernstein’s music from West Side Story and Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet at the Dulles State Office Building.

Kenneth Andrews’s orchestra, featuring musicians from across Northern New York, Central New York, Canada and as far east as Boston, presented their 10th concert of the year in venues from Massena to Potsdam to Watertown. This season is the 25th year for the orchestra and culminates with two American Pops Concerts to celebrate the birth of America on July 3 in Potsdam and July 4 outdoors at Watertown’s Thompson Park.

For Watertown and Jefferson County residents, the decision by the Orchestra of Northern New York to share its talents south of their home territory has been a blessing. The financial failure of the Syracuse Symphony several years ago left a void. Live orchestra music was simply not available.

Working with the Northern New York Community Foundation, the Orchestra of Northern New York began to fill the void by first performing at the Clayton Opera house and then in the city. The series has been outstanding. Mr. Andrews has assembled an excellent group of musicians and selected music that pleases audiences.

The foundation is using the earnings from an endowment raised in Watertown to support the Syracuse Symphony. The funds, raised in a campaign spearheaded by T. Urling Walker and the late P. Owen Willaman, were designated to remain in the foundation endowment no matter what happened to the Syracuse Symphony. The foundation’s use of earnings from this account to support the Orchestra of Northern New York is in keeping with the intentions of that fund campaign.

Now the community needs to help. Attendance at Sunday’s concert was thin, partially driven by the near perfect spring weather outside competing with the musicians in the auditorium. The orchestra is efficient, taking advantage of local musicians, but there are still heavy costs which need underwriting. The costs of the music alone are significant.

The north country has an irreplaceable asset, and it has the Northern New York Community Foundation support. But the foundation can only nurture the orchestra. The community needs to sustain it with contributions and by buying tickets at the box office.

Attend the July 3 and July 4 concerts and decide for yourself the value of this musical opportunity.

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