A Monthly Profile of Orchestra Fans and Family
There’s one thing Osagie Imasogie thinks everyone should know about The Philadelphia Orchestra:
“It’s a lot of fun. Not just fun. A lot of fun!” says the business leader, Penn law professor, and Philadelphia Orchestra Board member. “People have the sense that it’s a stodgy institution and nothing could be farther from the truth. The musicians are extraordinarily passionate individuals. They enjoy what they do. They spend a lifetime of training to create this amazing music for us. Same thing with the conductors that we have, particularly Yannick, so it’s a lot of fun. It’s a place where you have joy and happiness.”
Imasogie has been on the Orchestra Board since 2008 and now serves on the Executive Committee, among others. He co-chaired Opening Night in 2012, and is instrumental in fundraising—a job he takes on with gusto. What’s his pitch?
“I always start with the music. There is nothing more ethereal than listening to The Philadelphia Orchestra perform. There’s just nothing that touches that. The music is robust, it is unique, it is sublime, and can be extraordinarily moving if you release yourself to the flow of that music. If you listen to the Orchestra, you will fundamentally understand its importance and its value.”
And if you prefer jazz, or some other type of music?
“It’s no excuse at all!” he laughs. “My second argument tends to be, look, it’s an iconic opportunity. We should all be very, very proud that the Orchestra is based in Philadelphia. There are many other great cities that do not have orchestras, or do not have orchestras as great as that of The Philadelphia Orchestra, and that we should feel a sense of heritage, as it were, to maintaining the Orchestra, and supporting the Orchestra. … There are people who may not like classical music but who understand the heritage and the cultural angle. So for me, that’s my one-two punch. If I can’t get you on the music, I’ll get you on the culture. I prefer to get you on both!”
With enthusiasm effusing the way it does, we wondered: Does anyone ever say no to him? More hearty laughter, and then: “All I try to do is to convey what I deeply feel about this amazing institution that we have in Philadelphia.”
Imasogie was born in Nigeria and grew up in London and the U.S. His mother instilled in him a love of classical music in general.
“My mom was a devotee of classical music,” he says.
His more specific love of the Philadelphians came some 30 years ago, when he first moved to the city to attend law school at the University of Pennsylvania and heard an unforgettable performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2.
“Some of the most moving music in the world,” he says. “It was a wonderful concert. The Philadelphia Orchestra did what it does best, which is to provide world-class music in a very warm, full-throated manner. And I was thrilled!”
Today, it’s still one of his favorite pieces, because of the music, and because of that concert, a concert that also inspired him to get more involved with the Orchestra, first in the audience, then as a patron.
“I find the Board fascinating,” he says. “It comprises people who, by definition, all love the Orchestra, and love the uniqueness of The Philadelphia Orchestra, one of the iconic orchestras in the world. … The beauty of The Philadelphia Orchestra is it truly has a global footprint.”
The Board members are all proud of the Orchestra’s legacy, says Imasogie, and are eager to build on it—a mission made so much easier with Yannick Nézet-Séguin leading the charge.
“Where do I start?” says Imasogie. “He has been a star and a jewel. … He infuses so much energy into his conducting that every concert that he has conducted becomes memorable. Yannick has been a shot of adrenaline to the Orchestra. He has fired up the musicians, who are the ones that create this amazing music. He has energized the Board. He has made himself available and accessible to the general public in a manner that we haven’t had in a long, long time. And by so doing, he has brought the Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Sound that the Orchestra is known for, to a much wider audience than ever before. All of which have been fantastic.”