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Mike Greenwald is fondly remembered as the face of WITF TV's fundraising for years, as well as the long-running WITF auction, and other programs.
Though he retired in 2007 after 43 years at the station, he's still known to step in front of the camera on occasion.
But it's not as widely known that Mike is actively involved in the region's art scene, having served on a number of art institution boards, and for many years on the board of Theatre Harrisburg. In 1988, he helped establish the annual Theatre Harrisburg Arts Awards.
The official name is The Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts in the Capital Region. It's given to one individual each year, and one arts organization.
As Mike explains, "It occurred to us that while there were many different kinds of awards being given in the community for community service, for humanitarian work, there was no recognition of anyone doing distinguished service for the arts. And so we decided to create this award and pattern the night after the Kennedy Center Honors. We would do what Theatre Harrisburg does best -and that is, put on a production."
From the beginning Mike Greenwald has served as producer for the event: organizing and arranging, working with a director and performers, often serving as master of ceremonies and tribute host.
But not this year.
On Sunday evening during this year's Arts Award ceremony, Mike will sit back and let others do the work as he will be the recipent of the indivudual award.
The award recipients are chosen each year by a committee of past honorees, and as producer of the event, Mike serves as the administrator of that process.During a meeting, nominations are made and a series of secret ballots are taken until a consensus is reached.
This year, at one point Mike and the Executive Director of Theatre Harrisburg left the room to count one of the ballots.And as Mike recalls, "While we were out of the room, somebody knocked on our door and said we need you back in the meeting. And I was informed that the selection had been made ...and it was me."
Mike wanted at first to decline, but the committee convinced him otherwise. For his hard work behind the scenes as an organizer and champion of the arts, and his very visible work on WITF promoting the arts on radio and television, Mike was persuaded to accept.
Mike says, "WITF not only reflected my interest in the arts, but gave me a wonderful platform to advocate for the arts. And I've always felt that that was to the benefit of both WITF and to the community at large. I'm very, very proud and extremely grateful."
Ya-Ting Chang and Peter Sirotin
The organization chosen this year to be honored is Market Square Concerts, beginning its 35th season of bringing outstanding chamber music groups to the area. Founded in 1981 by Lucy Miller Murray, the current leaders are husband-and-wife Ya-Ting Chang, Executive Director and Peter Sirotin, Artistic Director. Both are professional musicians and educators, who have performed and recorded widely as The Mendelssohn Trio with cellist Fiona Thompson.
Ya-Ting says that part of the rewards of leading Market Square Concerts has been the development of a lot of new friends in the community."And" she laughs, " we also got to know each other a lot better as a couple."
Peter agrees, and adds, "Taking something that Lucy had started 35 years ago and maintained on a very high level and adding to it and expanding it is very rewarding. We have great appreciation for people who champion arts. To be a torch bearer for this is very rewarding in itself."
The Theatre Harrisburg Arts Awards Ceremony will be held Sunday Night at 5:30 at Whitaker Center.
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Support for WITF is provided by: