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22 Chestnut and Goats
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A Conversation with 2010 Volunteer of the Year

The Glimmerglass Guild is an instrumental part of the company. The Guild has around 200 members, and the group contributes around 3,000 hours of volunteer time each year.  The Guild hosts company events, contributes to the campus landscaping, assists in transporting artists and company members, presents educational programs, and more.

While you may be aware of some of their contributions – like the blankets that are distributed during cold nights in the Alice Busch Opera Theater – much of their work goes on behind the scenes. As a thank you, we present a reception (you may have read about this year’s) to try to express our gratitude. The company also selects a Volunteer of the Year and an Usher of the Year.

Simon Carr-Ellison was selected as the 2010 Volunteer of the Year. He has been volunteering for the company for some time now, but he officially joined the Guild Board this year and can be found on several committees and at most Guild events.

What is your first Glimmerglass memory?
The Mother of Us All was the opera that first got me to Glimmerglass (I’d wanted to come in 1995 to see Paul Bunyan but couldn’t manage it). I came for its opening on July 18, 1998, and have a collection of fine memories of that night – Jack Beeson’s remembrance of working on the first performance of The Mother of Us All, the Alice B Toklas red, white and blue tartlets at dinner, sitting next to and being well looked after by [Guild member]Abby Gibson, a wonderful production so worth the trip from the UK (I bought a ticket to see it a second time). And not to be overlooked, before it all, meeting Joan under the trees outside the Thaw Pavilion. All in all, a pretty good evening. What other opera company could give one a more memorable introduction?

 [Joan Desens, a member of the Glimmerglass Development staff and Simon were married 18 months later.]

Why did you decide to become such an active volunteer with the company? I didn’t; you start not knowing what you can do but rather what’s needed and then sort of grow with it. What makes it easier to do more is that there is so much that needs to be done and can be done by volunteers.

What volunteer activities have you participated in this past year?  Have you initiated any new projects or taken the lead on existing projects? Weeding, mailings, weeding, replacing the countertops in the dressing room bathrooms, weeding, pickups and deliveries of things and people, weeding. What was new was reviving a volunteer committee for weeding, and adding to that other work that can be done on the grounds using one’s skills, in my case, carpentry.

What has been your favorite Glimmerglass production and why? It has to be The Mother of Us All, for all the above reasons, but also because I think of it as the quintessential Glimmerglass production – a little-performed American opera, really interesting (and fun) production, great voices and full use of young artists. All of which could describe The Tender Land, which has been another really special Glimmerglass production.

Simon at the 2009 Springfield Fourth of July as part of the Glimmerglass brigade.

Simon at the 2009 Springfield Fourth of July as part of the Glimmerglass float and marching team.

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