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Extraordinary local couple honored at Pops

Community raises $11,000 in honor of Frank and Lois Martinez for music education programs

From left to right: Barbara Martinez, Frank Martinez and Gil Stork at Pops by the Sea.

Two longtime San Luis Obispo Symphony (SLO Symphony) supporters were honored in an inspiring display of community support at Pops by the Sea on Labor Day Weekend.

Every year one lucky bidder has the opportunity to win the auction for the coveted Maestro’s Baton and to lead the orchestra in a rousing rendition of John Phillip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever. Often a group gets together to honor a friend, co-worker or family member. All proceeds from the auction benefit the Symphony’s music education programs. This year, a dedicated group of friends and family conspired to raise $11,000 to win the baton auction in honor of Frank and Lois Martinez.

The Martinezes are renowned for their unwavering support of the arts and the local music community, and were instrumental in SLO Symphony’s early successes. Dr. Frank Martinez served as President of Cuesta College for 25 years and assisted in acquiring concert and rehearsal space for the Symphony in the early 1960’s when Dr. Earle Blakeslee was Music Director. He insisted that Cuesta College be the Symphony’s first real home – a welcoming place where the orchestra could practice, perform and prosper. After Lois Martinez passed away last year, members of the San Luis Obispo community felt compelled to honor them both and devised a plan to win the baton auction in the couple’s name.

“People wanted to do something special for Frank and Lois to thank them for all that they’ve done and to honor them for their support of the music community,” said Leslie McKinley, SLO Symphony’s Resource Development Director.

Barbara George, Cuesta College’s Interim Executive Director of Institutional Advancement, and Elaine Coats, the first classified employee ever hired at Cuesta College, along with Frank and Lois’s daughter Barbara Martinez, received the Martinez family’s blessing to recognize the couple in this surprising way. They began sending letters requesting donations to friends and family. Soon, support came pouring in from all over the country, as well as from the local community.

Just before intermission at the concert, a very surprised Frank Martinez was called on stage to conduct when Barbara George “won” the auction in his name. He was presented with his prize by longtime friend and Interim Cuesta College President Gil Stork and then led the orchestra in Stars and Stripes Forever.

“It was pretty obvious that he had no idea. I think he’s still in shock, still walking on a cloud,” said George, who was on the stage to help announce the honor.

This year’s Pops by the Sea theme was “Summer of Love.” A record crowd at the Avila Beach Golf Resort enjoyed tunes from the days of classic Rock ‘n Roll with special guest Grammy-award winner Louie Ortega.  The 20th Annual Labor Day weekend event was hosted by KSBY News Anchor Jeanette Trompeter.

More information and photos of this special event can be found at www.SLOSymphony.com.

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September 20, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment