William Hurford and Lesley Gilbertson Family Fund for Guest Pianists

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Left to Right: William Hurford, pianist Conrad Tao, and Lesley Gilbertson

The word “fanfare” became synonymous with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra after Music Director Eugene Goossens commissioned 18 fanfares for the 1942–43 season in support of the World War II effort. Aaron Copland’s now-famous Fanfare for the Common Man was one of the 18 commissions. The inspiration and legacy of that project carries through to today, even in the name of this publication, Fanfare Magazine.

In the early weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Orchestra’s artistic leadership re-envisioned the idea of commissioning fanfares as solo works that could be performed and recorded at home by Orchestra members and released on the Orchestra’s social media channels. William Hurford and Lesley Gilbertson jumped at the opportunity to support the fanfare written by CSO Creative Partner Matthias Pintscher for Principal Oboe Dwight Parry. This fanfare, vitres (fragment…), opened the CSO’s first Live from Music Hall livestream in May of 2020.

Drs. William Hurford and Lesley Gilbertson are both avid fans of the CSO and classical music. Bill learned to play the piano and attended music-based summer camps as a child. “While we wish we were accomplished musicians, sadly we are not,” said Hurford and Gilbertson. “Nevertheless, we have enjoyed classical music throughout our lives, beginning with children’s concerts while growing up in Pittsburgh.”

Spurred on by their participation in the 2020 Fanfare Project, Hurford and Gilbertson began to consider their legacy and how they could support the work of the CSO for decades into the future. “The CSO Philanthropy Team offered us the opportunity to create an endowed fund for guest pianists, which reflects our love of the piano and the CSO’s focus on premiering new works and new performers,” revealed Hurford and Gilbertson. Thus was born The William Hurford and Lesley Gilbertson Family Fund for Guest Pianists, which each season will support a guest pianist on a CSO subscription concert.

“Recently (only two decades—relative newcomers!) we have made Cincinnati our home, in no small part because of the quality and passion of the CSO. As we have now chosen to retire in Cincinnati, we look forward to future seasons, soloists, and world premieres by the CSO,” said Hurford and Gilbertson. “We appreciate this opportunity to further our connection to Cincinnati and the CSO in the years to come.”