by Frances Sack
Activities for this year’s 37th anniversary of the Middletown Symphony Orchestra’s Guest Conductor ‘Pops” Concert have been ongoing since late this summer with both candidates - Duane Gordon and Elizabeth Monce Lolli raising dollars for the symphony.
The Guest Conductor Pop’s fund raising concert was established in 1974 and continues today. It was created to provide much needed support as the cost to maintain our Symphony increased. Over the years, more than 115 business and community people have pick up the ‘Baton’ to be part of this event to raise funds and keep the MSO alive for the cultural enrichment of Middletown and our surrounding communities.
Our first MSO Guest Conductor candidate is T. Duane Gordon (Photo), Middletown Community Foundation Executive Director. Serving on his Campaign Committee as Chair Doug Bean and Co-Treasurers Janet Crawford and Ellen Paxton. His theme is “Flash Gordon”.
A Middletown transplant from Mississippi, Duane has become active in our community. His musical roots run deep, coming from his guitar-strumming father, keyboardist paternal grandfather and banjo-picking maternal grandfather, all of whom played off and on in local bands in Mississippi, “the birthplace of American music” as the home of the blues, King of Rock ‘n’ Roll Elvis Presley and Father of Country Music Jimmy Rogers, among others.
While earning his degree in journalism from Mississippi State University, Duane himself trained extensively in acting and classical voice, at the same time performing with the University Chorus, University Madrigal Singers and University Theatre. After college, his performing arts involvement included the Madison Square Center for the Arts community theatre and the Mississippi Chorus, highlighted by a performance in New York’s famed Carnegie Hall in November 2007 under the direction of renowned choral composer John Rutter.
Since moving to Middletown, he has sung twice with the Middletown Symphony Chorale, twice in the Middletown Civic Chorus’ annual production of Handel’s “Messiah” and most Sundays with the First United Methodist Church Temple Choir. He has also appeared in a number of musical and dramatic roles at Middletown Lyric Theatre, including earning two Orchid Awards from the Association of Community Theatres in Cincinnati for his appearance MLT’s production of “Ruthless: The Musical.”
He is president of the Kiwanis Club of Middletown, former secretary of the South Main Historic Neighborhood Association and chair of this year’s Butler County National Philanthropy Day luncheon. He hosts TV Middletown’s twice-monthly public affairs interview program “Foundation Matters” and is also a member of the Middletown Rotary Club.
The second MSO Guest Conductor candidate is Elizabeth Monce Lolli – well-known as ‘Libbie’. Serving are her co-chairpersons are David & Ginger Bruggeman and David & Carole Schul. Michael Lolli is treasurer and Ideopia is handling the marketing. Her theme is “LolliPops.”
Elizabeth Lolli (Photo) was born and raised in Middletown area and attend Madison Local Schools. She holds both a Bachelor’s degree and Doctor of Philosophy from Miami University, Oxford She has been an educator for 33 years, 16 of those were spent as an educator in the Middletown School System teaching music and Third Grade in several Middletown Schools. She was also, Instructional Specialist and Education Coordinator, Asst. Sup in Mayfield City Schools and Central Academy – Founding Principal. Dr. Lolli also served for twelve years as an associate professor in Educational Leadership at Kent State University before returning to public education at Nordonia Hills City Schools. She served 5 years as a Superintendent of Barberton City Schools before coming back home to be Superintendent of the Monroe Local Schools, a position she has held for 3 1/2 years.
She has been a national consultant, presenting at numerous national conferences and in 35 states, in the areas of multiage education, literacy and school reform. Her publications include a variety of articles and one book.
Ms. Lolli is an active member in the Monroe United Methodist Church, participating regularly church activities to include: Bible studies, singing in a women’s trio, and is a member of the Church Handbell Choir. Other free time is spent with family and is an active member of area wide PEO, Chapter DR. She is married to Eugene Lolli. She and her husband are parents to son, Matthew, and his wife, Tiffany, and their son, Benjamin.
Duane and Libbi have a couple more fundraising events before the “big” night on November 19th when top fundraiser for this year’s event will be announced. Duane will wrap up his activities with a Halloween Costume Gala at BeauVerre Studio on Central Avenue on Saturday, October 29 from 7 pm till midnight. Cost is $50 per person.
Libbi’s final events are: Variety of Talents Show on Saturday, October 22 at First Baptist Church on Breiel Blvd at 6 pm and includes Variety Show, appetizers and silent auction. Cost to attend is $20 per person; and Sons of Italy Spaghetti Dinner on November 5 at Monroe United Methodist Church/Atchley Hall; time 4:30 – 7 pm and cost is $8 per adult and $4 per child under 12. For more information, donation opportunities and event details email - Elizabeth Lolli firstname.lastname@example.org or call 513-727-0398.
I Got Rhythm! Mickey and Judy’s Hollywood staring Shauna Hicks & Jeff Harna will perform during the second half of the concert.
With renovation continuing at Miami University Finkleman Auditorium, this year’s Middletown Symphony Orchestra’s Guest Conductor’s Auction Pops concert will be held on Saturday evening, November 19 at 8 pm at Towne Blvd. Church of God – 3722 Towne Blvd. on Saturday, November 19th starting at 8:00 pm. Cost is $25 per ticket and is open to the public .Contact Midge @513-423-6779 for tickets.