Butler County art lovers keep the music going
Each year, the Marion home of two Butler County men is filled with the music of an old theater pipe organ for concerts that have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and local music scholarships.
“I know how hard it is to be able to go to college,” said Ben Robertson, one of the concert hosts. “I wouldn't have been able to go to college without a scholarship. If I can be of assistance to someone, I'm glad I am able to help them.”
Robertson, 70, and partner Don Fink, 76, are accepting music scholarship applications, with a Feb. 1 deadline. Selected applicants will appear for a personal interview and audition before a panel of professional musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. The winners will perform at the Marion home in May. Grants of $2,000 to $5,000, for a total of $25,000, will be awarded. Robertson said that since 2000, the men have given $176,000 in music scholarships to students playing all sorts of instruments, including strings, brass, woodwinds, piano, organ and percussion. The men have given $275,000 to Make-A-Wish.
Each July, Robertson and Fink host back-to-back concerts for Make-A-Wish, and in the fall, a concert for the music scholarships. In 2012, Robertson said, the concerts raised $20,000 for Make-A-Wish and $30,000 for scholarships.
He said the rustic setting of his and Fink's home is an unlikely location for the organ concerts.
“These are organ concerts that a lot of people don't know about. We invite only the best theater organists,” Robertson said. “We don't bring in second-tier or third-tier talent.”
Robertson and Fink are the retired owners of art gallery and picture frame store Blackwood Gallery in Ross.
The men designed and built, almost completely on their own, an addition to their home that houses the century-old organ, which rises majestically from the basement, for performances.
“It's an experience,” Robertson said.
He couldn't estimate how much the two have spent on the organ and renovations to their home in more than two decades.
“It's a bottomless pit,” Robertson said. “Once you start into a project, you can't start counting the money and you can't stop spending. You have to keep going until it finally works. Pipe organs aren't even around much now. They are costly to maintain.”
Scholarship applications must be postmarked by Feb. 1. Interested students can download the application and guidelines at www.blackwoodmusic.org.
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Teens elevate Western Pa. communities with Eagle Scout projects
- Mt. Lebanon history center project gets OK
- 50 years later, Vietnam vet gets his degree at Westminster
- Museum’s ‘Carnegie Trees’ exhibit shows ‘Winter Wonders’
- Decorated World War II veteran gets visit, gift from ex-Steeler
- More fear ‘tackle’ football too risky for kids
- eReader books also available to borrow at local libraries