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UO alums honored for endowment leadership

  • Aug 9, 2010
Andrew and Phyllis (Phyzz) Berwick, relative newcomers to the Oregon Bach Festival who have quickly become dedicated supporters, received the organization’s highest honor in a prelude to the Festival’s 40th anniversary celebrations. Jan Lariviere of the University of Oregon presented the Saltzman Award to the Berwicks during the Patron Celebration, held June 23, 2010 at the Valley River Inn. Named in honor of Royce Saltzman, founding executive director, the Saltzman Award is not an annual honor, but presented only to individuals who have shown exceptionally high levels of leadership and commitment to help the Festival achieve its mission. The Berwicks, both University of Oregon alums who reside in the San Francisco area, have been significant donors to the Festival since 2005 when they announced a pledge of $1 million to the OBF’s Saltzman Endowment. They currently serve as the endowment’s co-chairs, along with Mary Ann Moore, and have facilitated its growth beyond its $10 million original goal. With an additional gift in 2010, they have underwritten the Festival’s professional chorus – now called the Berwick Chorus of the Oregon Bach Festival. More than funds, however, is the leadership and commitment the couple has shown, said John Evans, OBF executive director and president. “Andy and Phyzz are true believers and supporters,” he said. “But beyond that, they have applied their experience, connections, savvy, and above all, a love for the music, to help us soar beyond our endowment goal.” The Berwicks have a long involvement with the San Francisco Symphony. Andy, president of Berwick Pacific Corp, is a lifetime member of their board of governors. As a UO student in the 1950s, he served on the board of the Eugene Symphony. They attended their first OBF concert in 2004 by chance while in Eugene for a visit, and the music made a big impression. “It was love at first sight, or at least first hearing,” said Andy, accepting the Saltzman Award. “It is a pleasure to be honored. We find ourselves greatly humbled.” Phyzz Berwick graduated from the UO with an education degree in 1956, taught for many years, and has directed a community choir. Now, the couple’s generosity will be associated with the voices of the OBF’s singers. “Because music is an international language, it can transform lives,” Phyzz said. “When people sing together, it’s something that can be shared with such a deep level of feeling.” Previous winners of the Saltzman Award are Dave Frohnmayer, former UO president, and his wife Lynn; Nonnie Cole, a Eugene arts patron and former OBF board president; Helmuth Rilling, artistic director; Tom Wildish, community leader and board president; Bill Bowerman, the track coach and key donor; and Royce Saltzman himself, the inaugural recipient.