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Monday, December 22, 2003

SSO Founder Elliot Honored With Commendation, Scholarship

SALISBURY, MD---An audience of more than 500 well-wishers at the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra’s recent holiday concert said farewell to retiring founder and musical director/conductor, Dr. Thomas G. Elliot, in a program which included moving tributes from Salisbury University, the community and the SSO.   Afterward, a gala reception was held in his honor.

Elliot’s name will continue to be associated with music at SU.  Robin Cockey, one of the original musicians from the symphony’s founding in 1986, announced the establishment of the Thomas G. Elliot Scholarship Fund at SU for students studying music.

Both University President Janet Dudley-Eshbach and Dean of the Fulton School of Liberal Arts Timothy O’Rourke presented gifts and accolades to the music professor including an appreciation which read, in part, “For his zealous pursuit of excellence in musical performance, for his passionate commitment to the instruction of musicians of every age, for his tireless efforts in building community support for music education and the performing arts, and for his inestimable contributions to the creation and growth of the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra, which shall remain forever as Ö (his) gift to the Eastern Shore.”

“Your legacy will continue on,” Dudley-Eshbach assured him as she and O’Rourke reaffirmed the University’s commitment to the orchestra, which Elliot has shepherded from 25 musicians at its debut 17 years ago to 63 today.  He also founded the Youth and Collegiate Symphony Orchestra, an SSO affiliate, for student musicians in the region.

The 67-year-old music professor was moved by the tribute, telling the audience who gave him a standing ovation, that he felt the orchestra was moving in the right direction.

Two members of the symphony, Dr. Charles Smith, faculty emeritus at SU, and Otello Meucci, a longtime friend who knew Elliot from days together in Boston at the start of their careers, also shared stories.  Smith saluted earlier efforts by others in Salisbury to establish a community orchestra, but noted Elliot was the first to make it permanent.  Meucci, who has been teased by Elliot for his resemblance to Tony Bennett, shared many personal reminiscences. 

The orchestra also recognized its former manager, Lacey Robinson, and welcomed her successor, Derek Bowden.

After the concert the symphony founder was thronged by well-wishers at a reception in his honor which included many longtime patrons and benefactors Judy and Peter Jackson, whose $100,000 symphony gift became the cornerstone of a $400,000 SSO endowment. 

For more information on the Thomas G. Elliot Scholarship Fund or the SSO, call  410-548-5587.


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