Inside the Usher Corps

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Ushers are Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra ambassadors and an integral part of our success! These volunteers are responsible for providing outstanding customer service to Hilbert Circle Theatre and Symphony on the Prairie patrons.


Mariol Luddy

Mariol is often hailed as the ISO sweetheart. Stop by and say hello, she has many stories to share!

Where are you from and where do you work?

I am originally from Hammond, Indiana situated in the Northwest of the state. I moved to Indianapolis area in 1961, and it has been my home ever since. However, we did move to Montreal in the1970s for eight years but found our way back home. I studied at Indiana University and received my Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education. I presently work as a Realtor in Indianapolis.
 
What motivated you to become an ISO usher? 

After the passing of my husband, I wanted to fill a void. Ushering allowed me to attend concerts and help enhance the patron experience while expanding the ISO family.
 
Who is your favorite composer? 

I love the works of Beethoven, Gershwin, and John Williams. Truly there are too many to list. Life is better with music!
 
What has been your favorite experience with the ISO so far?

I would say my time with the ISO has broadened my life experience. I have been with the ISO for so long, it feels like family. I may have been a package deal to come with the building.
 
Why is volunteering with the ISO important to you? 

I joined the usher corps in 1996, since then I feel like it filled a void in my life. I have a better understanding of the hard work of the ISO team, and how that impacts a patrons experience. It is very rewarding for me to serve our patrons. I believe I give a little, but receive a lot in return.
 
What would you tell someone that is considering volunteering with the ISO? 

Come on down! We’ll save a seat for you. Your life will be more enriched for it.


Dave and Sharon Reed

Dave and Sharon Reed are originally from south-central Illinois and lived in the Chicago suburbs for twelve years before moving to Indianapolis 36 years ago. Dave worked with AT&T Bell Laboratories and Lucent Technologies in Research and Development for 30 years. Sharon worked for the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township as an elementary secretary. They are both retired and have been dedicated volunteers with the ISO for the past five years.

What motivated you to get involved as a volunteer for the ISO?

We have been attending concerts at Symphony on the Prairie for 35 years. Five years ago we decided to volunteer for the first time. We both enjoyed the experience and the following year we started ushering here at Hilbert Circle Theater. It is a perfect opportunity to support the arts in Indianapolis, plus the concerts are great!

Did you ever play an instrument?

Neither of us can even read music, but we always feel that there needs to be an audience to appreciate the talent of the musicians. We truly enjoy being a member of the audience!

What has been your favorite experience with the ISO so far?

Both of us enjoyed the evening that Kenny G performed. We were asked to try to keep
those attending from taking pictures while Kenny G signed autographs. He was very kind throughout the evening and spent time with Sharon as the concert was on her birthday. The concert was also one of the best we have attended!

Why is volunteering for the ISO important to you?

Because the ISO is a nonprofit, we support it by volunteering to ensure the ISO can continue to be the outstanding orchestra it is. It is especially important that our grandchildren will have the opportunity to appreciate the ISO in the future.

What would you tell someone that is considering volunteering with the ISO?

Volunteering allows you to, of course, hear great music! But, you will also meet the awesome staff, the dedicated volunteers, and the patrons. The hours and dates are flexible so you can select to work the concerts that you would most enjoy! It’s great! Try it for yourself!


Sam and Carol Bixler

Sam and Carol Bixler are Indianapolis residents. Carol grew up in south Alabama and Sam grew up in Iowa. Sam is an engineer with Eli Lilly & Co. and was previously on the board of Indianapolis Suzuki Academy for many years. He volunteered at Global Gifts, a fair trade store, and with the Warren Central High School Dads for many years. Carol continues to volunteer at Global Gifts and in Warren townships schools. Both are active in their church and an important part of our ISO Volunteer family.

Have you ever played an instrument?

Carol played flute in high school. Sam grew up with classical music and played cello in the family quartet. He still plays occasionally. Both of us play recorders.

Do you remember your first experience with the ISO?

Yes! We received tickets to the IPL Yuletide Celebration from a friend when we first moved to Indianapolis with a preschooler. We got tickets to the Family Series for a few years. Then we decided that we would make the ISO our “date night” and got the 7-concert subscription package. We had many positive interactions with ushers over the years and thought that “someday” we would like to do that job. In the fall of 2015, we saw in our program books that volunteers were needed for Yuletide ushering. We enjoyed it so much, now we volunteer as often as possible.

What has been your favorite experience with the ISO so far?

Sam: The Gil Shaham/Jennifer Christen concert was wonderful.
Carol: Having patrons remember me from ushering the previous year at Yuletide 2016!

Why is volunteering for the ISO important to you?

Volunteering for the ISO is a small way for us to support the arts in Indianapolis, which we are happy to do.

What would you tell someone that is considering volunteering with the ISO?

We appreciate the camaraderie with the house staff and volunteers as well as the interesting patrons. There is never a dull moment, it is truly a wonderful experience.


Dustin phillips

Dustin Phillips was born and raised on the west side of Indianapolis, surrounded by corn fields. His interest in technology led him to obtain an Information Technology degree from Purdue University. After I graduated last May, Dustin started working full-time at a small consultancy firm in Fishers. He uses volunteering with the ISO as a way to immerse himself into the greater Indianapolis community.

What motivated you to become an ISO volunteer?

I was excited to start volunteering simply because of my love for music. I had previously attended ISO concerts at multiple locations, and was thrilled to  nd a way to promote the orchestra and listen to their concerts for free! I moved
to Fishers around the same time the ISO was ready to begin their Symphony on the Prairie series. Since I lived close, I was excited at the possibility of working most of the
concerts — I signed up for nearly all of them. After a full summer of concerts, I was convinced to continue volunteering downtown at the Hilbert Circle Theater.

What has been your favorite experience with the ISO so far?

On July 3 of last year, the ISO was planning to perform their annual Independence Day concert at Conner Prairie. Cold rain had been falling since early afternoon and showed no signs of letting up. So we donned our bright yellow raincoats and headed out in the midst of the rain. Even through the cold and the rain, we were all smiles as we greeted patrons coming in for the show. It was such a memorable evening because it proved that the ISO truly does have the most dedicated volunteers!

Why is volunteering for the ISO important to you?

I have two main reasons for volunteering with the ISO. First, I deeply value the ISO’s mission to bring quality music and education programs to the community. Indianapolis is extremely fortunate to have a world-class symphony, and I am happy to be a part of the team that helps to keep those programs running smoothly. Second, I care that the patrons that come to the symphony’s performances are treated well and enjoy themselves. Ushers are often the only people on the ISO team with whom most patrons will interact, so it’s important that we show them how happy we are that they are spending their time with us!

What would you tell someone that is considering volunteering with the ISO?

Volunteering with the ISO is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. Aside from hearing so many wonderful performances, I have enjoyed the friendships I’ve made with other volunteers. You are able to meet people from all walks of life, and you can truly tell they’re excited to be there. Altogether, volunteering here is a fantastic combination of good music and good friends. We would love for you to join our ISO family!


Pat Craven

Pat Craven was born and raised in the Indianapolis area, originally just east of Fountain Square, not far from what was then the Circle Theater. Eventually both her father and aunt worked for Eli Lilly, a growing and respected local business. In 1981, her family decided to move from Indianapolis to Florida to start a new family business. While the business venture did not turn out as planned, they found fulfilling opportunities. Pat worked for the Clerk of Court in Sarasota County in 1985 and relocated to Indianapolis upon retirement in 2014.

What motivated you to become an ISO volunteer?

I have always enjoyed the arts and was able to volunteer for the West Symphony in Florida. When I moved back to Indianapolis in the fall of 2015, I sought out volunteer opportunities in the arts again. I was thrilled to learn of
the volunteer positions with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the opportunity to join a team of such great volunteers.

Have you ever played an instrument?

I have never played an instrument, however I have always been drawn to music and have several favorite composers.

Why is volunteering for the ISO important to you?

I most enjoy interacting with people, both the patrons as well as the volunteer team. Being retired I feel it is important to stay connected and active within the community. The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra fulfills those aspects of my life and I thoroughly enjoy all the opportunities it has provided.

What would you tell someone that is considering volunteering with the ISO?

I tell my family, friends, and visitors in the city that the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra is a vital part of our community. Volunteering with the ISO really makes a di erence and you should join us, it’s so much fun!


Megan Willis

Tell us a little about your background.  Where are you from and where do you work?

I am originally from a small town in Indiana called Gosport, but I now live with my husband, Tim, and son, Duncan, in Pendleton. I graduated with a degree in Psychology from Ball State University.  Since graduating, I have had a plethora of jobs, including working as a flight attendant.  Being a flight attendant allowed me to travel the world and visit many unique places.  I am now a stay-at-home mom, which I enjoy immensely, but look forward to doing something with my degree in the future.

What motivated you to become an ISO volunteer?

Being a stay-at-home mom is a rewarding experience, but the interaction with adults is limited. I have always loved attending ISO shows, so when I got an e-mail asking for volunteers, I was thrilled.  I viewed it as an opportunity to give back to my community while meeting new and interesting people.

Have you ever played an instrument?

I have never played an instrument, but music has always had an important role in my life.  I have always been more interested in the visual counterparts of music, like dance.  In school, I was involved in dance and color guard.

Who is your favorite composer?

Debussy. “Clair de Lune” has always been a favorite as well.

What has been your favorite experience with the ISO so far?

Symphony on the Prairie is probably my favorite time to volunteer.  The concerts are fantastic, and the venue is gorgeous.  It is a wonderful experience that combines my love of nature with my love of music.

Why is volunteering for the ISO important to you?

The ISO brings so much joy to the patrons that attend the concerts.  I have always liked making people happy, and that is what I get to do as a volunteer.  It has become an important part of my life that I genuinely enjoy doing.

What would you tell someone that is considering volunteering with the ISO?

Do it! It has enriched my life in many ways and seems to positively impact every volunteer I talk to.  


Chuck Wethington

Chuck Wethington has been a wonderful volunteer for the ISO since joining the volunteer program in 2013. He has volunteered a total of over 350 hours!  His warm, friendly and bubbly presence is loved by patrons, volunteers and staff. His energy is contagious, and the front of house team truly enjoys having Chuck in our volunteer family. The ISO is lucky to have such a fun, caring and passionate volunteer as a part of our team. Chuck Wethington was awarded the 2016 Volunteer of the Year award for his incredible dedication to the ISO.

Tell us a little about your background. Where are you from and where do you work?

I was born in Gary, Indiana, but spent most of my life in Louisville, Kentucky.  I come from a large family of eleven brothers and one sister. I have worked three jobs in my life, all of which involved working in customer service. My most recent role at Lowes was working in the Garden Center as the Department Manager. My fellow volunteers often approach me with greenery advice.

What motivated you to get involved as a volunteer for the ISO?

My mom and dad referred me to the volunteer program after they had volunteered for several years. My partner, Eric, and I have volunteered together for three years now.

Have you ever played an instrument?

Yes, I actually took piano lessons for about nine years and after a thirty-year hiatus, I have recently started playing again.

Who is your favorite composer?

I have always loved the music of Beethoven.

What has been your favorite experience with the ISO so far?

I would have to say the first time I walked in to the theater…it truly is beautiful!

Why is volunteering for the ISO important to you?

I love volunteering my time for an organization that gives so much back to our community.

What would you tell someone that is considering volunteering with the ISO?

Volunteering with the ISO is a great way to get involved with the community. Come join us! Each time I volunteer I feel like I am an important member of the ISO family.

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