Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Meaning Behind "Music for the Cure"

I am not sure how to write an introduction to this piece. I was so moved by the creative thought, the inspiration and the personal stories. I am also moved by the commitment of Farmers and Merchants Bank and its CEO Henry Walker to a cause that touches everyone of our lives. I think the moral to the story here is that creative thinking begets creative solutions. Read and enjoy. Bunnie

The Meaning Behind “Music for the Cure”

by Henry Walker, CEO, Farmers and Merchants Bank

A core philosophy of Farmers and Merchants Bank and a Walker family tradition, is to proactively support community programs that make a difference. This value has been upheld since my great-grandfather started the bank over 100 years ago. Now four generations later, this value is highly regarded despite the turbulent economic landscape. In this time of hardship, it has become necessary to break out of the box in our strategic thinking and find new ways to promote the causes we advocate.

As the current CEO, I am honored to serve as a board member for the Pacific Symphony and an advocate for breast cancer awareness as a Pink Tie Guy for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. It is my mission to increase exposure for each organization. Identifying new ways to raise funds was essential for these organizations to continue their mission.

That’s when a new idea was born, paving the way for each one to reach new audiences with the potential for significant financial growth. It started out as a thought and sparked into an entire theme, merging the two organizations for a big event. It is unusual for an arts organization to align itself with a health-related cause, but this partnership brought innovative ways to capture new audiences, create a buzz for both organizations, and most importantly, amplify the message of breast cancer awareness. When the organizations came together to find common ground, the Pacific Symphony discovered the impact of breast cancer within their own orchestra. Their assistant conductor, Maxim Eshkenazy, was still recovering from the loss of his cousin and music instructor who inspired him to play the violin, eventually leading him to become a conductor for a world-renowned orchestra. Music has obviously played a large role in the lives of the Pacific Symphony members, and Komen also recognized the healing power of music to ease pain and suffering for women who are in the fight of their lives. Out of this recognition, the first ever “Music for the Cure” was born.

The Pacific Symphony’s annual “Tchaikovsky Spectacular” often draws the same crowd year after year. It seemed to be the ideal fit to incorporate Komen and launch the first-ever “Music for the Cure.” Advertising was key to increase involvement and jumpstart ticket sales. Farmers and Merchant’s marketing department worked in conjunction with our public relations agency to develop an overall campaign that included bus advertisements to roll across streets, neighborhoods and freeways to capture the attention of drivers across Southern California.

The stage was set and the organizations were jumping over hurdles to work together, but in the end their hard work culminated in a highly attended event that took on a pink hue never seen before at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. The concert ended with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture, climaxing into a burst of thundering canons and spectacular fireworks to commemorate breast cancer survivors who have overcome a devastating disease that affects one in eight women nationally.

The first ever “Music for the Cure” provided an opportunity for the general public to support breast cancer awareness and the preservation of music, two key programs in Orange County. The increase in potential donors, supporters and fundraisers is still being realized, but the cross-pollination led to a sold-out crowd. The convergence of these organizations has created a new role model for partnerships that are necessary during these difficult times.

For more information or to arrange an interview with Mr. Walker, Contact Robyn Williams at http://www.hkamarcom.com/

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