From San Marco to Oxford – local chamber music society sets sights on England

From San Marco to Oxford – local chamber music society sets sights on England
The Olsons, along with four other musicians – the Symphony’s Principal Flutist Les Roettges; Aurica Duca, principal second violin; Clinton Dewing, violin; and Dr. Nick Curry, associate professor of cello at the University of North Florida – are trying to raise nearly $20,000 for the trip. They also have to pay for an airplane seat for Dr. Curry’s cello.

Little did Principal Oboist Eric Olson know when he joined the Jacksonville Symphony 30 years ago he would meet his future wife, Ellen, in the orchestra, or that they would one day perform together in Oxford, England.

And little did either know the path to Great Britain would begin when their daughter, now 20, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes.

Fifteen years ago the Olsons began holding yearly benefit concerts with a small group from the Symphony to raise funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

Seven year later, in 2008, the Olsons founded the San Marco Chamber Music Society, the next – but as yet unknown – step to Oxford.

What began as a once-a-year benefit concert, which raised more than $12,000 over the years for JDRF, soon morphed into five performances a year, fulfilling the society’s mission to present the best chamber music it can to the biggest audience it can, and making every concert free to the public.

The Olsons are once again fundraising, but this time it’s for a different cause. The San Marco Chamber Music Society is participating in a cultural exchange with The Adderbury Ensemble, of Oxford, England.

Last year Rod Morris and his wife, Annie, who plays the violin with the Jacksonville Symphony, had hosted longtime British friends and supporters of the arts, Roger and Juliet Curry, on a visit to Jacksonville. “Juliet said ‘We need to bring a group of your symphony musicians to England,’ and I thought what would be cool is a swap,” said Morris, fundraising chairman for the group.

Promoting Jacksonville as an arts community

SM_ChamberMusic_02“One of the reasons we want to do this is to promote Jacksonville on an international stage,” said Morris. “British people know about Florida, but they know it as Naples, St. Pete, Tampa, Miami. It’s our opportunity to wave a flag and say ‘Come see us.’”

Morris is trying to obtain corporate and individual sponsors for the trip, and would welcome them into the entourage on the trip.

“We’ll promote our sponsors while we’re over there,” he said. “I think this is so important and such an unusual venture that if we get to the right people [to sponsor] I think they will agree that it’s a pretty good project.”

To support the San Marco Chamber Music Society’s cultural exchange, visit or to become a sponsor, contact Rod Morris at (904) 230-4114 or [email protected].

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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