What's Your Superpower?

I grew up with five superheroes: five boisterous brothers who had me totally convinced they could protect all the kids in our Milwaukee neighborhood — and save the entire planet if necessary. Tom, the oldest, was our Batman: super smart, super analytical and super wealthy like his alter ego Bruce Wayne. Back then, he always saved most of his allowance; today he’s a Logistics Manager. Todd, aka Spiderman, loved rock-climbing, web-slinging and using his Spidey-sense to alert us when my mom and dad were about to catch us doing something we shouldn’t be doing. Sweet, shy Myles came alive as the Green Lantern, drawing his superpowers from a tin-foil ring and a C cell battery he took out of my dad’s radio. Not surprisingly, he’s an engineer. And, Terry, who somehow morphed from the drummer in a rock band to a church pastor, spent his early years entertaining us as the Hulk. I’m still trying to figure all that out. And then, there’s my brother Mark, who was always Superman, the mighty man of steel with super strength, super speed, x-ray vision and the power of flight. Except for that one little issue with kryptonite, Superman was pretty invincible. And that’s how I felt about Mark as a little kid, and how I feel about him now. He’s watched out for me my entire life, protecting me from childhood bullies, “rescuing” me whenever my rickety ol’ Honda Civic broke down in high school, and throwing me a big-brother lifeline whenever I had a problem as an adult. Once, he achieved super, superhero status when he came upon a car accident and actually pulled a man out of a burning car.

Yes, from the very beginning, my brothers banded together to form a Justice League of their own. And, for the most part, they used their super powers for good (Remember, they were a pack of boys, not angels). Anyway, that got me thinking about the Phil. We have a pretty good Justice League of our own going on here. Not to fight bad guys. But to preserve and promote what we value: live symphonic music. And it’s no big Justice League secret why we do it. We do it because we know that music has a super power all its own. It makes us happy. There is absolutely no way we could produce six fabulous concerts each year without working together. There is absolutely no way we could stage a free waterfront concert on the 4th of July without joining forces.

There is absolutely no way we could provide scholarships to talented young musicians without combining our super powers to make it happen. We couldn’t accomplish any of this for a single year — much less the 100+ years we’ve been bringing incredible musical experiences to the people in our South Shore community — without banding together. Each of us has a super power. And, we have to unleash it every single year to make the magic happen. Again. And again. And again. Some buy tickets or an ad in the program. Others attend the gala or compete in the golf tournament. Still others sponsor a concert, an event, or a musician. We’re all needed to power up the music in and out of the concert hall. So far, we have met 69% of our fundraising goal for the year. We have three short months to close the gap. While donations are pretty much on track with past years, I don’t mind telling you that the final quarter is always a bit unnerving.

This is the homestretch, and we need everyone’s support now more than ever. Please, continue to be a superhero and make a gift today. What we’re doing matters. It matters to us individually and to the thousands of people we impact each year with our super power: music.

The Sky's the Limit

I have a big list of places I want to visit. I have another list of places I’ll probably never get to see. Those with restricted access. Places that are top secret, very hush-hush. Super exclusive. Super cool. Seriously off-limits.

Like the White House Situation Room, Nevada’s Area 51, or the Coca Cola Vault in Atlanta which guards the century-plus-old, secret formula to “the real thing.” Fort Knox in Kentucky is also a no-go. To check out the US gold bullion reserve and other national treasures, you’d have to break a security perimeter defended by 40,000 soldiers and a stream of attack helicopters. James Bond-ish? You bet! So is England’s RAF Menwith Hill, believed to be the biggest electronic monitoring, intelligence-gathering station in the world.

And, when you’re hanging out with the Brits, don’t expect an invitation to White’s Gentlemen’s Club. London’s oldest and most exclusive club is reserved for bigwigs and royals who love high-stakes betting games. The most famous involved a 3,000-pound wager to see which raindrop would slide to the bottom of the window first. And, just so you know, the Queen’s bedroom in Buckingham Palace is equally hard to access—especially after a 1982 security breach.

The Vatican Secret Archives? Not without the right credentials. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway? Doubtful. Hardly anyone has access to the vault that protects seeds from all over the world in the event of a global catastrophe. In 1963, the government shut down the Lascaux Caves in France after a mysterious fungus threatened the ancient wall paintings. And, only a priest or priestess of the Imperial Family can visit Japan’s Ise Grand Shrine, constructed to honor the sun goddess. Every twenty years, it’s demolished and rebuilt in celebration of rebirth.

The most restricted place of all is probably Moscow’s Metro-2; it’s so secret no one is 100-percent sure it even exists. The underground transportation system was allegedly constructed under Stalin’s reign and parallels the public metro. A few claim to have built it; a few more claim to have seen it. Wouldn’t you like to be one of them?

Well, enough about the fascinating places we’ll never see. Life’s much better without restrictions, when nothing is off-limits—like the Phil’s annual gala next month. Since, we’ve been taking off in new directions all year, we decided to land this party somewhere decidedly different: inside a hangar at the Plymouth airport! Cool cocktails, fancy food from around the world, very live music and travel-themed auction items make this the go-to get-together of the season.

It’s also a serious fundraiser. Proceeds from the gala fuel the Phil’s operating budget. Last year, we raised over $72,000 in unrestricted funds (see how I circled back to this?) to meet our annual expenses not covered by grants, sponsorships or restricted gifts. I’m talking about important things like rent, utilities, insurance and salaries. This is a more-the-merrier kind of event in more ways than one. We plan to raise the bar…and have one helluva time doing it!

So, get your ticket, get on board, and get ready to party. After all, how many chances do you get to hang out in a hangar and bid on several once-in-a-lifetime experiences to support the Phil? Seriously, the sky’s the limit when it comes to Phil fun. And, like Vegas, what happens in the hangar, stays in the hanger.

The Phil's Annual Fundraising Gala
Saturday, April 21, 6-11 pm ◾ Pro Airways Hangar at Plymouth Airport
Oh, the places you'll go and the things you'll do when you bid on these fabulous auction items. Can't come? You can still join the fun. Simply let us know you want a proxy bidder by April 20 and tell us your maximum bid. Your proxy will bid in your place. Or, if you prefer, your proxy will call you to place your bids live over the phone. Call 508.746.8008 for details.


Value $7,298
Donated by Viking Cruises and Wendy Cushing, Travel Concierge
Minimum Bid: $2,500

Choose one of three fabulous 8-day Viking River Cruises.
◾ Explore castles and cathedrals from Amsterdam, the Netherlands to Basel, Switzerland.
◾ Sail to charming cities and villages from Budapest, Hungary to Nuremberg, Germany.
◾ Cruise to enchanting destinations from Passau, Germany to Budapest, Hungary.
Airfare, transfers, optional shore excursions and land extensions are not included and are available for purchase at regular brochure fare. Not transferable and may not be exchanged for cash. Cannot be combined with other promotions. Stateroom upgrade is available for purchase at prevailing rates subject to availability. Winner is responsible for any applicable tax and port charge. Valid on available embarkations for 2018/19 only. Reservations are only accepted within 120 days of departure. Space per sailing is limited and yield controlled. Not applicable for Viking Tours or other Viking products including Viking Ocean. Offer valid for river cruise only. Other restrictions may apply.


Value: Priceless
Donated by Tasteful Adventures and Jason Wolfson
Minimum Bid: $1,000

Treat your friends to a once-in-a-lifetime experience in a private, fully-outfitted airplane hangar (featured in Boston Common Magazine!). Tasteful Adventures will provide an onsite cook and service for up to 20 guests for a cocktail party or a dinner for 8-10 guests. They'll work with you to create an internationally-inspired and seasonal menu. (Final menu at discretion of Tasteful Adventures.) To be scheduled at a mutually agreeable time between the winner, Jason Wolfson, and Tasteful Adventures.


Value: $4,800
Donated by: Steve and Deb Bowen
Minimum Bid: $1,000

Four front row Putnam Club seats for a Patriots 2018 season game at Gillette Stadium! Choose your game from one of the three dates to be announced at the auction. Enjoy pregame club offerings and warm up anytime during a chilly game. No worries about the weather. The club opens two hours pregame so enjoy yourself in comfort! Includes two premium parking spaces.


Value: Priceless
Donor: the Phil
Minimum Bid: $500

The lights dim, the conductor approaches the podium and...it's YOU! This thrill of a lifetime can be yours. Conduct the Phil at one of our most popular concerts, Holiday Pops on December 8 or 9, 2018. This item includes two premium seats to the concert and conducting lessons with Music Director Steven Karidoyanes. Just hear those sleigh bells jingling, ring, ting, tingling too. Imagine the bragging rights after your incredible performance.


Value: Priceless
Donated by: Steven and Amy Karidoyanes
Minimum Bid: $500

You know our Steven K. is multi-talented, but did you know he is also a fantastic cook? Revel in Greek culinary delight as Steven and his fabulous wife Amy prepare an authentic Greek dinner for you and seven guests in your home. From appetizers to dessert, you will enjoy genuine Greek cuisine--including Steven's famous moussaka! You provide the beverages of your choice, and Steven and Amy will do the rest. The dinner to be scheduled on a mutually agreeable date and redeemed by April 30, 2019.


Value: Priceless
Donor: The Phil and Paul Gross
Minimum Bid: $500

Giddy yap, giddy yap, giddy yap let's go! Here is your chance to be an orchestra musician at the Holiday Pops concert on December 8 or 9, 2018. Be part of the percussion section and crack the whip during Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride." The Phil's principal percussionist Paul Gross will be your coach and meet with you in advance of the concert for training. This item includes two premium seats to the concert. Don't just come to Holiday Pops, be part of it!


Value: $950
Donor: Bill and Judy Gagnon
Minimum Bid: $350

Two great seats for the Red Sox game in the State Street Pavilion, Section 2. But wait - there's so much more! Package also includes $250 gift card for hotels.com, $150 Island Creek Oyster Bar gift card and a $50 Uber gift card.

Buy tickets to the Gala


The Super Long Way to Carnegie Hall

I’m a pretty determined person. I’ve been to a lot of cool places (Australia, Singapore and Italy), done a lot of cool things (met Yo-Yo Ma, snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef, got my motorcycle license), and crossed every single one of them off my very hot bucket list. I’m also pretty good about not letting something I really want to do stay on the list too long. That’s why it’s been driving me crazy that “See Something at Carnegie Hall” has been on the list since 5th grade. Before there was an official list. Before I even knew what the “bucket” part of bucket list meant.

I’ve wanted to go to Carnegie Hall since 1972. That was the year my big brother Mark told me Cat Stevens, Carly Simon, Elton John and Carole King would be performing there in June. Okay. I was eleven, lived in Milwaukee and had cash-flow and transportation issues to overcome, but I was seriously star-struck, and Carnegie Hall was now on my musical radar.

Now, Carnegie Hall has about 100 performances per year. And, I haven’t seen the inside of my 5th grade classroom for forty-something years. That means, I’ve missed about 5,000 performances. Oh, I’ve been to New York many times. And, each time, I’ve gone with every intention of “catching something” (anything!) at Carnegie Hall. But somehow, I have never gotten closer to this world-famous venue than a late-night drive-by in a smelly yellow taxicab on an incredibly cold winter’s night. Until last year. I finally got to Carnegie Hall, and it was a life-changing experience.

The orchestra performed Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony and Aaron Copland’s, Bought Me a Cat, accompanied by 2,000 singing, recorder-playing, elementary school kids from the NYC school system. The kids had all participated in The Weill Music Institute’s Link Up, a year-long, in-school, interactive music program for third, fourth and fifth graders, which culminated in a live musical performance with the orchestra at Carnegie Hall. They were all having the time of their lives. Laughing. High-fiving. Fist-bumping. Clapping. Cheering. Music-making. It was an incredible ode to joy-- one I will never forget. And, I won’t have to.

Thanks to a generous donation from Diane and Gary Glick, we are bringing this award-winning program from Carnegie Hall to the South Shore. This month, the Phil will become one of 100 communities across the country—and the world—to give this musical gift to our children. Our kids will not only study great music in their music classes, they will make great music with their classmates, and—on one magical day, they will be part of the Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra.

Watch this short video with the Columbus Symphony. I can’t think of a better gift for our children. I can’t think of a better way to honor our mission to present programs that nurture a life-long appreciation of music. And, I can’t think of a better way to start the New Year right. With music.

Into the Shark Tank

I can’t get enough of ABC’s Shark Tank. Every week, a new group of entrepreneurs has roughly ten minutes to convince five self-made, multi-millionaires to invest in their businesses. No pressure there, right? Well, that got me thinking. What if I asked the Sharks to fund the Phil? Hmmm. Maybe? Probably not. Although it would definitely be worth a shot, I’m pretty sure my pitch would not cause a feeding frenzy among America’s most ruthless investors.

KIM: Hi, I’m Kim Corben. I’m seeking $530,000 to produce the Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra’s upcoming concert season.
SHARK 1: Do you have proof of concept?
KIM: Well, we’ve been bringing music to the community for over a hundred years, so we’re pretty sure it’s a good idea.
SHARK 2: What are your projected sales for the year?
KIM: Ticket sales will be about $325,000.
SHARK 3: What do you hope to clear from that?
KIM: Nothing. Ticket sales only cover musician and production costs.
SHARK 3: So, you’re in the red every year.
KIM: Yup. Every year.
SHARK 4: Raise ticket prices.
KIM: Can’t. We want to keep the arts accessible to everyone.
SHARK 5: Cut expenses. Do you really need all those musicians?
KIM: Yes. We really do. It’s an orchestra. Not a quartet.
SHARK 2: How are you going to make up the difference?
KIM: From investors. That’s why I’m here. In the Tank.
SHARK 1: What percentage of equity are you willing to give me?
KIM: None. The Phil belongs to the community.
SHARK 1: So, how do I get my money back?
KIM: You don’t.
SHARK 1: I don’t make any money?
KIM: No, you make people happy.
SHARK 1: I’m not in the business of making people happy.
KIM: Really? It’s all we do.

When you put it like this, our funding scenario does sound a bit out-there. And, I don’t mind telling you that when I ask you to not only purchase tickets but to collectively invest an additional $530,000 every season, it’s more than a little nerve-wracking – especially at the start of the season when we’re the furthest from our goal. But, I also don’t mind telling you this: This is how successful, nonprofit, professional orchestras work. Our ticket sales are strong. We are an excellent steward of our resources. Sixty-percent of our operating budget goes directly to paying our musicians and producing phenomenal concert experiences. And, without a shadow of a doubt, the Phil brings the best live entertainment to the South Shore community. Every year. We also bring incredible and innovative musical opportunities for children. Period.

Thank goodness, we don’t need to rely on Sharks. You get it. Intuitively. Without explanation. (With just a gentle reminder, or two). You are one of our investors because music matters. It’s something you can’t live without; it’s something you want everyone in our community to share. 

So, c’mon. Let’s make some music together. Please renew your previous gift to the Phil this season or become a first-time investor in this extraordinary organization!

I’ll touch base with you frequently throughout the year to share more thoughts and show you how your support impacts the community in ways you may not have known. I also want to hear what’s on your mind. So, catch me after a concert.  Meet me at a soirée. Send me an email. I’m easy to find… just a phone call away.

Kim Corben
Executive Director