Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Washington Orchestra's New Manager Believes 'The Symphony Is for Everyone'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Washington Orchestra's New Manager Believes 'The Symphony Is for Everyone'

Article excerpt

As the first full-time employee of the Washington Symphony Orchestra, Adam J. Shaffer is eager to spread this message: The orchestra makes music for everyone.

Mr. Shaffer, the new general manager of the orchestra, said one of his goals is to bring more people to the performances to experience the music firsthand.

"Many people hear the word 'symphony' and they think it is a group of stuffy people in black ties. That isn't the case at all with us," he said.

The Washington Symphony Orchestra has been offering musical performances for 13 years and decided to take its organization to the next step by hiring Mr. Shaffer.

"It's a long-awaited and crucial step for our long-term sustainability. We are very excited about it," Mary Courtney, board president, said.

Mr. Shaffer comes to the nonprofit with experience in the nonprofit arena and in writing.

"I went to Washington & Jefferson for pre-med and was a bio major for two years, but then I changed to an English major," the Hempfield resident said.

After graduating, he went on to graduate studies at the University of Miami in Florida.

"I always tell people that I wanted to try something that would be the closest thing to leaving the country without really leaving it," he said.

He stayed in the Miami area for a few years after completing his master's degree in English, working at several newspapers and eventually becoming an editor at a community newspaper. After working for several years, he decided to move back to his hometown and start his own community newspapers in 2004. With his new wife, Shelia Cuellar-Shaffer, he moved into his grandparents' previous home and started three newspapers - in Greensburg, Hempfield and Jeannette.

"We got married, moved back home and started the papers all in a couple of months," he said.

The couple performed all of the tasks of running the papers themselves and decided after a year to shut down their operations.

"It was the right idea at the wrong time," Mr. Shaffer said.

Pursuing his interest in the history of Westmoreland County, he started freelancing and working with the Baltzer Meyer Historical Society, based in Hempfield. …

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