by Jack Howell
If the question is what Jon and Carol Walton have done for the Pittsburgh Symphony, the concise answer would be, anything they could. They have been BNY Mellon Grand Classics suscribers for decades, our companions on the past five international tours, and leading supporters of the annual fund drive. Most recently, they endowed the Associate Principal Viola chair and provided a generous match for the “88 Keys” drive for a new concert grand piano. Jon, an attorney and executive who retired in 2011 after 25 years with Allegheny Technologies, Inc., has served on the PSO Board of Trustees since 2003, currently serving as Vice-Chair of Orchestra Relations.
Hard times provide a much tougher test of a relationship than good times. Four years ago the PSO went through a very hard time. For some board members (and, to be fair, for some musicians), problems ended the relationship, but for others, the relationship proved more important than the problems. Jon Walton was one of those board members who helped the organization back away from the edge of the cliff, and helped re-establish lines of communication with the musicians. There was a period after the strike when a board member who came backstage was not necessarily guaranteed a warm welcome, but some board members, Jon prominent among them, made it a point to come backstage, to listen and discuss, to make it clear that they weren’t going anywhere. If some relationships ended, others grew stronger. Jon and Carol are an example of the latter; their passion for music, their devotion and commitment to the PSO has only strengthened in the past few years, and we musicians thank and love them for that.