Celebrate the rich history of the home where The Philadelphia Orchestra first made its sound famous—the glorious “Grand Old Lady of Locust Street.”
A Monthly Profile of Orchestra Fans and Family
Raymond and Joanne Welsh met at the University of Pennsylvania, were married the day after graduation (June 12, 1953), and several months later were living in Guam. Or, rather, Joanne and their newborn son, Scott—born in March of ’54 in a Quonset hut—were living in Guam. Ray was at sea as an officer in the U.S. Navy. “It was an adventure,” says Joanne, “being there alone week after week,” with no entertainment. No TV. Hardly any radio. “No anything except Fibber McGee and Molly. Could I have used a recording by the Orchestra! Good grief!”
Sixty-two years of marriage later, life is still an adventure for two of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s most generous donors. “It’s irreplaceable as a treasure of the city—and the state and the country,” says Raymond. “As Philadelphians … we have a responsibility to support our cultural institutions.”
“It’s also a pleasure to go to the Orchestra,” adds Joanne. And it’s a night out for the couple in an otherwise non-stop schedule. Raymond, who’s now in his 80s, serves on The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Board of Directors and chairs the Development Committee. That’s in addition to his still full-time job as senior vice president of UBS Financial Services, plus leadership roles fundraising for the Salvation Army, Bancroft, Episcopal Community Services, and numerous other civic and charitable organizations.
“I’m the chauffeur!” Joanne quips. “We’re very active. It keeps us going.”
Music education is a particular passion for the couple. They’ve been instrumental in establishing a thriving music program at the Salvation Army’s Kroc Corps Community Center in North Philadelphia, which now has its own successful youth orchestra, sometimes treated to guest appearances by Philadelphia Orchestra musicians. “The children really are flourishing,” says Raymond. “Their academics are much improved due to their music learning and discipline.”
“What a joy that has been,” says Joanne, not only for the children, but also for the parents, who are so proud to see their kids discover music. “I just think that is quite a gift for them. And also for us.”
After those first two years in the Navy, the Welshes moved back to the Philadelphia area and have been here ever since. Raymond went to work at what was then Kidder, Peabody & Co., now UBS Financial Services through mergers. He celebrated 60 years with the firm last August. He and Joanne raised three children of their own, and now have six grandchildren. “We’re totally blessed,” he says.
And you might say his involvement with the Orchestra was divinely inspired: It all started one Sunday morning at church.
“[Orchestra Board Chairman] Rich Worley is a good friend and we’ve known each other for years,” says Raymond. “Coming out of church one Sunday he said, ‘Can I call you?’ I said, ‘Sure.’ He said, ‘I want to talk about the Orchestra …’”
“… because they know he’s a good fundraiser!” Joanne interjects.
The Welshes are also subscribers—and big fans of Yannick. “I think he’s just amazing, being the only one in his family who’s a musician,” says Joanne. Among the highlights this season: sitting with his parents for Opening Night. “We enjoyed them a great deal,” says Raymond.
“It’s nice knowing [Yannick’s] background and knowing that people can love music even though they don’t have it in their family or in their genes,” says Joanne. Neither she nor her husband have musical talent, she says, “even though Raymond thinks he’s a great trumpet player … or was in his younger days!”
Raymond chuckles. He was pretty good on the horn back in prep school, he says.
“There was just no time to keep pursuing it so I had to give it up,” he says. “Which I regret to this day!”
Photo by Jessica Griffin