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May 15, 2014

Symphony to salute longtime supporters May 18

This Sunday, the Terre Haute Symphony Association will stage “The Gift of Music,” a dinner and program set aside to honor David and Jerry Mitchell. Reception begins at 5 p.m. at the Country Club of Terre Haute, with dinner beginning at 6. Entertainment will be provided by a Terre Haute Symphony Ensemble comprising John Spicknall on piano, Eddie Ludema on trumpet, Eliot Heaton on violin, Joe Deal on bass and John DiCenso on drums.

The Terre Haute Symphony Association has set up a new endowment in honor of the Mitchells. It will fund the Concertmaster’s Chair. Contributions can be made to the endowment at the Wabash Valley Community Foundation, 2901 Ohio Boulevard, Suite 153, Terre Haute, IN 47803.

The Mitchells’ love of “all kinds of music” began when they were young. Throughout David’s childhood, his family listened to albums of classical music and took piano lessons “because everyone in our family had to,” he recalls. But when he was allowed to choose his instrument, he dropped the piano and picked up the trumpet. At Terre Haute’s Wiley High School he played in the band.

Jerry’s love of music also began when she was a child. Every Saturday afternoon, while she was reluctantly taking a nap, she listened to classical music on the radio. Later at Brazil High School, she studied music with a teacher who not only developed in her students an appreciation of music, but who also required them to create current events scrapbooks that focused on music. As a result, Jerry learned that music is a vital part of our everyday lives.

After David’s military service, he returned to Terre Haute. He and Jerry met in a Qualitative Analysis Chemistry class where — in preparation for her anticipated career as a medical doctor — she was the lab assistant. In 1948, they were married. In 1953, they left the USA for 28 years during which time they lived in several other countries, including Canada, Mexico, Venezuela and Bolivia, where David was an executive in the utility business.

David and Jerry moved back to the United States in 1981. David continued to travel in connection with his work while Jerry became an active supporter of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. She particularly enjoyed her acquaintance with its music director, Keith Lockhart, who is now the principal conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra.

In 2001 they moved back to Terre Haute, where both became active in many facets of the community. As David says, “We didn’t come here to sit. We wanted to get involved.” David has served on the Terre Haute Symphony Association Board, including two years as president, and Jerry has worked with the Terre Haute Symphony League.

At the League, Jerry helped to develop a series of luncheons that focused on the theme “The Heartbeat of Man — Music.” She ardently believes that music is an essential part of the nature of mankind and says, “Every culture has music. Different kinds of music — but music, nonetheless. Our love of music begins when we hear our mother’s heartbeat in utero, and it never, never leaves us.”

David calls their contributions of time, talent and treasure to the Terre Haute Symphony Association “a selfish act because, you see, we like to hear great music.”

Dinner reservations for The Gift of Music celebration are $100 each. Learn more or make reservations at thso.org or by calling 812-242-8476.

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