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Volunteers Make Music with Symphony

They don't play musical instruments, but Gale and Robert Lawrence of Riverside are a vital part of the ensemble behind the scenes at the Greenwich Symphony Orchestra. "[The GSO] runs like a job. It's efficient, and it produces an exceptional product with the programs we run each year," Robert Lawrence says. "Everything is completely voluntary."

Lawrence, a retired plant scientist from UST Inc., has been a volunteer on the board of directors for nearly 20 years. He has spent the past year organizing and preparing for the group's annual wine and cheese festival, which will be held Oct. 22 at Richards. The event is the biggest fundraiser for the Young People's Concert Series, which is performed from November to March at Greenwich High School.

"This festive evening supports a treasure in music education, an opportunity for some 6,000 students in Greenwich public and independent schools to experience live symphony performances," Lawrence says.

The festival will honor Greenwich resident Rob Mathes, a world-renowned musician and record producer. Mathes served as the musical director of the Obama Inaugural Concert at the Lincoln Memorial.

"Rob is well known in the community and as a performer," says Gale Lawrence, a former art teacher. "He has also built international music circles as a composer and arranger, record and event producer."

The symphony began in the 1940s when a group of musicians played together in what they called the Greenwich Philharmonia. Local businesses and benefactors funded the group, and its auxiliary began promoting its concerts. It now plays with 85 professional musicians.

Robert and Gale like to travel, and Robert enjoys his collection of antique and new motorbikes. But appreciation of the arts is an important part of their lives.

"We love art," said Lawrence. "Anywhere we go, we're going to find it."

For more information on the fundraiser, visit www.greenwichsym.org/ .

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