ARDYCE TOSTENGARD CRYSTAL CELLO AWARD 2015
Jo Dee Wright
A long time Houstonian, our Crystal Cello Award winner started dancing and playing piano at the age of six. She continued her musical education studying clarinet while in middle school. She took business classes in high school and received a Business degree at the University of North Texas. She worked in the Executive Offices of Shell Oil Company before supervising the Professional Education Division at Arthur Anderson & Co. She met her husband (whom we all know and love) at AA&Co. during lunch at the Long Horn Saloon, and after two beers and few dates was engaged and married in six months. She returned to the performing arts as an Assistant Director of a long-time and well-known dance studio in Houston teaching children 3 years and up, choreographing routines and assisting in recitals . During this time, she also returned to study classical music with Lynne Gush for ten years when she attended a salon concert in her home, and listening to duos (two pianos, four hands) re-ignited her passion to study piano once again. She is very proud to own a re-built 1910 Steinway, Model B (7) with ivory keys. However, it has been rather lonely of late.
Her journey to the Houston Symphony started three decades ago volunteering in the Controller's Office doing data input and special projects. She remembered attending the Maestro Collection where a League member said "Why don't you join?" So she joined and served on the League's Mailing Committee for several years. Later, Virginia van Horn asked if she would be interested in being Treasurer of the League based on her background. She has since served as League Treasurer, Store Treasurer, AMSOV Representative, Asst. Treasurer, VP-Finance and volunteers in crafts and education activities for Family Concerts, Magical Musical Morning, Children;s Fashion Show, Jr. Patrons, and volunteered to assist with the Concerto Competition. Most recently, she has served on the Ima Hogg Competition Committee for the last five years and is currently serving as Chair-Elect for the 2015 Competition. She and her spouse have attended every Ima Hogg Competition for the last ten years. They established the Ima Hogg Competition Endowment Fund this past year to ensure sustainability of the competition for future generations of aspiring, young musicians. She was recently nominated by Helen Shaffer and elected to the AMSOV Board as what else, Treasurer!
As to favorite League activities, she enjoys analyzing financials and OPM (Other People's Money) and assisting and watching the faces of young patrons as they learn about the Symphony for the first time at the Family Concerts. Not surprisingly, her favorite activity is to enjoy a glass of champagne in the Patron's Lounge with Symphony friends before concerts.
Here is a lovely quote from Allsion Conlan, Manager, Education: "From my point of view, she always comes to the table with an eagerness and vision to bring projects to the next level for the benefit of the students/kids involved. Not only does she have the vision, but she also has the motivation to help us get there. Whenever she is helping out, she always puts others first and herself last. She is such an important asset to the Houston Symphony community for her tireless efforts with the Symphony's education programs."