Chair Donor Profile - Andrew and Jenny Smith

Meet Andrew and Jenny Smith, Chair Donors for Principal Timpanist Steve Logan. Find out more about how their relationship with their sponsored musician has enabled a generational change for the Auckland Philharmonia.

Keen observers of the orchestra this year will have noticed a few extra sparkles in the timpani section. The first from Principal Timpanist Steve Logan’s enigmatic smile because he is pleased as punch, and the second – from a brand new set of hand-made Adams Shcnellar Romantic Timpani which debuted on the Auckland Philharmonia stage this year.

By the end of 2022, the Auckland Philharmonia timpani were in dire straits. Held together by duct tape, with broken tuning gauges, mis-shapen bowls and timpani parts no longer being manufactured, there was a rising anxiety about imminent failure for the instruments used in every Auckland Philharmonia concert.

Enter Andrew and Jenny Smith, Chair Donors for timpanist Steve Logan. “Everyone was so aware of the plight of the poor ‘baby timpani’ that it was becoming a bit of a joke,” Jenny explains. “We would hold our breath every time they were wheeled out for a concert, half expecting them to expire mid-performance in a pile of duct tape and loose screws! And more than that we kept thinking what must Maestro Bellincampi think of this orchestra with such a dilapidated set of timpani?”

Andrew and Jenny Smith's journey of support for the Auckland Philharmonia started with a bit of encouragement from friend and fellow chair donor Stephen Hoffmann. Knowing the Smiths’ passion for the orchestra, he suggested that they might like to support through a chair donation. Andrew and Jenny pondered which instrument to choose out of a sea of violins or the timpani, but they were keen to easily spot the musician they supported on stage. “Back in the earlier days, the timpani was always so high up on the stage at the Auckland Town Hall, so I said to Jenny I think those are for us, and Jenny agreed,” Andrew recalls enthusiastically.

Andrew explains their relationship with the Auckland Philharmonia as a two-way conversation.

“Knowledge is opportunity in everything we do. Once Steve told us of the need for a new instrument and how it would lift the performance of the orchestra, the decision was easy to make.” The Smiths decided to underwrite the cost of the instrument purchase to get the process started. “Once the timpani were ordered we held a fundraiser at our house with some friends and other supporters of the orchestra. Over wine and cheese, Steve brought the old timpani to the house and demonstrated the need for the new timpani.”

The event raised $40,000, a total achieved through the generosity of many enthusiastic donors and a matching donation from the Smiths. “We are in a very fortunate position to be able to do this for the orchestra.” The new set of drums have a life span of approximately 50-60 years – so the instrument investment will serve the orchestra for future generations of audiences and musicians.

The new drums have already lifted the orchestra’s sound to the next level, evident in the recent Haydn 'Drum Roll' Symphony No. 103 performance on 17 November. You can next see the new Romantic Timpani showcased at the Auckland Philharmonia’s first Bayleys Great Classics concert of 2024, where it will be played for the Rossini, Mozart and Beethoven repertoire.

This instrument purchase would not have been possible without the support of generous donors, like Andrew and Jenny, who recognised and responded to the need for the ultimate benefit of Steve, Maestro Bellincampi and all audience members of the orchestra.

For more information on becoming a Chair Donor or supporting instrument purchases for the orchestra click below.

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