When the Pennsylvania Centre Chamber Orchestra started in 1991, it had three annual shows and a $3,000 budget.
Now the group boasts five shows and a $100,000 budget. One of the constants through all that time was conductor Douglas Meyer, who will be retiring from his position.
“Twenty-three years is a long time to conduct an orchestra,” he said. “We’ve worked very hard at it. The board has worked very hard, and we’ve had wonderful audiences and the musicians, of course, are fabulous.”
Meyer was honored for his work at the Centre County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday when the board proclaimed May 7 as Douglas Meyer Day in Centre County. That date coincides with his last show in his current position.
Meyer, who has guest conducted in several other countries, also has a degree in music composition and will be continuing to compose after his retirement. He said he also will keep looking for guest conducting opportunities, and will be taking the stage in Romania in October.
His retirement leaves an opening at the orchestra that will be filled by one of three candidates. Meyer said they were chosen from 90 potential applicants and will each conduct a show as a trial.
He also will be missed by the organization’s leadership, Executive Director Susan Kroeker said. She also played flute for the orchestra for the entirety of his tenure.
“He has just devoted his life to this orchestra,” she said. “He’s done everything from fundraising to office work to mailings to supporting the board, just any kind of thing he could possibly do to make this orchestra run smoothly and succeed.”
Meyer said the county is rich in music, in part because of the talented music faculty at Penn State. He said they never had a problem getting 30 to 36 musicians for the performances and doesn’t expect it to be a problem now.