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Walpole woman’s gift to the Neponset Valley Philharmonic Orchestra

A March concert will include a performance by guitar soloist Robert Belinic. A March concert will include a performance by guitar soloist Robert Belinic.
By Paul E. Kandarian
February 14, 2010

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ONE HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY: Call it a $40,000 gift of love just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Yvette Morrill of Walpole gave that much to the Neponset Valley Philharmonic Orchestra, a gift that prompted orchestra conductor Lawrence Isaacson to call Morrill “our angel donor.’’

Morrill said that she was charged with donating a portion of her mother’s estate to nonprofit organizations, and the orchestra was perfect.

“I love classical music, and the NVPO was a good fit for the Neponset Valley,’’ Morrill said. “I don’t want to drive all the way to Boston for a classical concert, and I know many other classical music fans outside the city who feel the same way. Not only that, but the cost of a ticket is about the same as parking in Boston.’’

When the orchestra began two years ago, she said, “the economy took a dive and I wanted to support it and provide some guaranteed income.’’

Morrill, who took piano and flute lessons as a child, said musical groups in the area have traditionally been bands, and the NVPO offered something new. In addition, the orchestra offers classical musicians a training opportunity for performing in a professional orchestra, and she sees that as a plus as well.

“At a time when we have needed it the most, our angel donor has been a blessing to the NVPO,’’ Isaacson said. “Starting a cultural venture is difficult enough. Starting it in the current economic climate has made it almost impossible. This most recent donation has put us in a good position not only to finish up this season in the black, but also to begin plans for our third and most adventurous season to date.

“As we prepare for four concerts next season, up from two in the previous two seasons, we are finally ready to create a solid musical footprint in the Neponset Valley,’’ he said.

The orchestra performs March 21, at 3 p.m., at King Philip Regional High School in Wrentham, with guitar soloist Robert Belinic performing Joaquim Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez.’’ Also on the program are Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, Kaska’s “Fanfare for a New Millennium for Brass Ensemble,’’ and Schreker’s “Intermezzo for String Ensemble.’’ For tickets and information, visit, or e-mail info@NVPOrchestra.or or call 781-381-3300.

As a member of the Walpole Friends of Music, Morrill helps to bring musical performers to the Walpole public schools, with a special focus on the elementary level, where instrumental music instruction was dropped several years ago due to budget cuts. She will have the NVPO’s string quartet performing in Walpole’s four elementary schools on March 15 and 16.

“At the last performance, the kids were interested the entire time, especially when they heard the quintet play ‘Star Wars,’ ’’ Morrill said. “Live music is so much more exciting than a recording.’’

BRAINTREE MAN IN NEW INSTITUTE: Braintree resident Paulo Stagnaro, a percussionist and composer who has performed with talents such as Paquito D’Rivera and Gloria Estefan, is one of 14 people chosen nationwide as students in the inaugural Berklee Global Jazz Institute at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. The institute started last month and is being directed by Grammy-winning pianist Danilo Perez.

College officials said the institute has three main goals: To provide an interdisciplinary music program where students may explore their creativity at the highest levels; to explore the social power of music as a tool for improving society; and to connect musical creative thinking with the restoration of nature. Students may pursue a performance degree, diploma, or a two-year certificate through the institute.

In 2008, Stagnaro’s band, La Timbistica, won the DownBeat Student Music Award. Stagnaro has played prominent festivals and venues across the globe, including the Newport Jazz Festival, the BeanTown Jazz Festival, and the Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center, both in New York City.

Perez said students will be mentored by world-renowned jazz masters and travel globally to perform at festivals, teach children, and “explore music’s unique power to promote social change.’’

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Cathleen Foley, a senior tax manager with Braintree-based KAF Financial Group, was named secretary of the board of directors at the Friends of the South Shore Hospital in Weymouth.

Mattapoisett native Gayle Almeida was promoted to corporate sales manager at The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge. Almeida, a graduate of Old Rochester Regional High School in Mattapoisett and Westfield State College, had worked at the inn as a dining room supervisor, manager of the Jacks Grill restaurant, and a sales associate before her promotion.

Michael R. Healy of Kingston (inset) has been promoted to first vice president in commercial lending at South Shore Savings Bank. He joined the bank in 2000 as vice president in the commercial lending department.

Paul E. Kandarian may be reached at