July 7, 2016

Music and Nature In Perfect Harmony at the Holden Arboretum

Holden Arboretum Pic with Gabe Novak
Photo: Robert Muller 

Get your summer fix of the Cleveland Institute of Music on Tuesday nights at the Holden Arboretum. Kicking off on July 12 and running throughout the summer, the Holden Arboretum hosts summer concerts that frequently feature CIM students. The concert series, now in its seventh season, includes CIM student performers due to the generosity of Gay Cull Addicott, who believes that “the musical futures of CIM students will help ensure the future of classical music.”

Sitting in the sunroom of Gay Cull Addicott’s home, completely surrounded by beautiful flowers, you can’t help but assume that Gay has a passion for gardening. You would be right. But you quickly learn that she also has a passion for music. Many childhood memories are of family gathering around and singing as her mother played piano or of her cousin teaching her to sing harmony while they did the dishes each night. Music is still a part of her everyday life and a reason behind her sponsorship of CIM’s student performers at Holden Arboretum.

As a child, Gay’s love of singing took her to the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp to study music. In high school, she took private voice lessons and participated in school musicals, even landing the role of Annie in Annie Get Your Gun. When it came time for college, she chose Ohio Wesleyan and planned to be a voice major until her asthma made it clear that she could not continue to train at the collegiate level. After receiving a degree in English, her professional life moved through numerous roles in the business sector and the political world—or, as she jokes, “her checkered past.” Still her passion for music and gardening was as strong as ever.

Gay and her husband Ed found a way to make an impact on CIM and the greater community while highlighting her life’s passions. In 2010, Gay was approached to sponsor performances by CIM students during Holden Arboretum’s annual Summer Series—concerts performed in its outdoor gardens. She jumped at the chance, saying, “It has given our students the opportunity to perform, and it’s given CIM a lot of visibility that it didn’t have.” The event is now in its sixth year.

Gay began supporting CIM by attending concerts and contributing to the school more than 25 years ago. Nearly 20 years ago, she was asked by her friend Edith Miller to host a Women’s Committee luncheon at her home, and her personal involvement continued to increase. In July 2000 she was appointed to CIM’s Board of Trustees where she has remained a member, serving on the governance and development committees.

Gay and Ed are regular attendees of CIM’s Orchestra concerts. CIM’s talented young students have made quite an impression. She says, “Their dedication is just unbelievable.” Their hard work and her love of classical music are the motivating forces behind her support of CIM. Gay has been a generous member of The Bloch Society, composed of leadership donors to CIM’s Annual Fund, for more than 20 years. She believes that “the musical futures of CIM students will help ensure the future of classical music.”

Clem Hamilton, president and CEO of the Holden Arboretum and the Cleveland Botanical Garden, remarked, “As keen and knowledgeable devotees of fine music and creative gardening, Gay and Ed have been generous (and delightful!) partners for both CIM and Holden Arboretum. Joel Smirnoff and I are pleased they have combined their interests by sponsoring Holden’s summer concert series, which each year highlights outstanding CIM students and alumni.”

Summer 2016 Concerts featuring CIM Include:

July 12 - Cleveland Institute of Music - Bassoon Ensemble

Aug. 2 - Cleveland Institute of Music - Gabe Novak & CIM Provise - Jazz Ensemble

Aug. 16 - Cleveland Institute of Music - String Quartet