A friend, indeed

Supporting the Phil behind the scenes

Amy Beatty, photography by Ellie Bogue

Amy Beatty, photography by Ellie Bogue

You could call Amy Beatty a fan of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. You would be understating things just a bit. She’s a big fan, to the point that she’s president of the Philharmonic Friends, a group that’s been around nearly as long as the orchestra itself.

“I remember sitting on the floor while (the Philharmonic) was playing ‘Peter and the Wolf,’ I guess, when I was at Memorial Park,” and it was a transportive experience, Beatty recalled.

That experience, coupled with the shared experience of the Philharmonic with her family, led to her lifelong love affair with the Phil. And now, as president of the Philharmonic Friends (and a member of the Phil’s board of directors), Beatty and her cohorts in the Friends provide much-needed support for the orchestra.

“It’s a group that has fun,” Beatty said. “We are really driven by our passion. We really love the Phil.”

Friends of the Philharmonic do everything from sponsor the October Masterworks concerts, support an instrument loan program to area schoolchildren to even picking up guest performers from the airport and housing them while they’re in Fort Wayne. Each spring, they dig into their closets and host one of the area’s biggest garage sales. And they buy scores for the Phil’s Youth Orchestra, sell cookbooks, sponsor bus trips and a style show, and on and on, all in the name of supporting the orchestra each member loves.

In its early days, the group even scrubbed floors and set up chairs for musicians. It’s all about the love of classical music, and not just the classical music produced centuries ago.

“There’s some great music out there. We hear snippets of it all the time,” she said. “John Williams – (his work) is classical music. There’s still spectacular music being created today.”

Beatty wants those who think of classical music as only being enjoyed by the high-society set to rethink their stereotypes.

“I think there’s something for everyone,” she said, her hands warm around a large cup of tea. “You don’t have to wear a tux to come. It’s like church: God really doesn’t care how you’re dressed. That said, it’s a fun reason to get dressed up. We’ve lost so much elegance in life.”

The Philharmonic Friends began as a roll call of who was who in Fort Wayne society, to be sure, but today encompasses all manner of folks who are united by their love for the soaring highs and emotional lows captured by string and bassoon and bass drum. And the group, now in its 70th year, is looking to recruit 70 new members who are willing to expand the work of the group. Its Young Artists Competition and the May field trips for schoolchildren to see the Phil perform always need volunteers, Beatty said.

“We do a lot of behind the scenes stuff that saves the organization money and time,” she said. “The nice thing about the Friends is that we have so many things to do. It’s as little or as much time commitment as you want.”

First appeared in the January 2014 issue of Fort Wayne Monthly.

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