|By Eric Gallippo|
Volunteers lend ears, handsAfter the final movement is played, the audience files out and the lights go off in the Wharton Center’s Cobb Great Hall following Saturday’s season-opening Lansing Symphony concert, there will still be at least one more job to do: count the ticket stubs.
It’s just one of many tasks for which the Lansing Symphony relies on volunteers, like Frank and Jeane McKowen.
“We go over some afternoon and dump a box on the desk, and we count them,” Frank McKowen said.
In July, the McKowens were recognized by the Lansing Symphony as its Volunteers of the Year for 2008-’09. Over the last 10 years, the McKowens have lent a hand with greeting visitors, distributing posters, moving the organization’s administrative offices, running a contest for young musicians and bringing educational programming into schools. Being chosen was “kind of a shock, or a surprise, I should say,” Jeane McKowen said. “There are an awful lot of volunteers.”
When it came to selecting the McKowens as Volunteers of the Year, Guarino said it came down to the Williamston couple’s love of music and willingness to help with any job, no matter how mundane, like counting ticket stubs. “It’s important for us to know who is using the tickets,” Guarino said. “They are happy to do those tedious things, and they feel like they are a part of what we’re accomplishing. “They are the best kind of volunteers.
Jeane McKowen, 67, grew up in a musical family, surrounded by classical sounds. “My folks both played instruments and sang, and they always had classical music in the house,” she said.
She first started working with the symphony while teaching music in the Webberville school system, a job she retired from in 2002, bringing choirs to sing at the Holiday Pops concert. After a while, she started getting involved in others ways.
Frank McKowen, 86, still vividly recalls getting hooked on “the world’s greatest music” while visiting the home of a high school classmate who played violin. “He put on a recording of the Tchaikovsky Fourth Symphony on his phonograph and then proceeded to get out his violin, sit down and play along with the recording. I was totally blown away, both by his obvious talent and the beauty of the music.”
But they don’t like people making too big of a fuss about them.
“We don’t volunteer so we can shout it from the rooftop,” Frank McKowen said. “I kind of think low key. I like the symphony, and I like the people.”