Art Axelrod Receives Excellence Award from OVI


Art Axelrod Showing His OVI Award At our Annual Donor Recital held on May 17, 2015 at the Rochester Academy of Medicine, the Guild's Vice-President Art Axelrod, received the Partners in Excellence Award from Opera Volunteer International (OVI). His family was in attendance and were the only ones who knew that the Guild members had submitted his name for nomination. The honor was a complete surprise.

Anastasia Johnson (pictured below with Opera Guild of Rochester President, Agneta D. Borgstedt and Art Axelrod), Northeast Director of OVI attended our annual meeting to award the plaque and pin to Art. Art was one of three nominees among all of the Opera Guilds in America to receive this special recognition.

Art Axelrod's love of opera was nurtured by his father when he was a child, and became a life-long passion. His professional career was as a computer scientist at Xerox Corporation, from which he is now retired, and he devotes many, many hours of his time to the maintenance and continued well-being of the Rochester Opera Guild, as its Vice-President.

Art's contributions to opera in Rochester, however, pre-date the current Guild.  Art joined the board of a previous organization, the Rochester Opera Theater Guild, and in 2002 developed a newsletter for the group.  The newsletter led to an invitation from the Brighton Memorial Library in 2003 to give a series of lectures about opera, which began in 2004 with a course of three lectures.  Through Art's nurturance and guidance, this has developed into an established program, with four additional docents, and has expanded to include other libraries in the Rochester area, including the Rochester Publicl Library, and other institutions such as the Italian-American Community Center.

Stacey Johnson, Agneta D. Borgstedt and Art AxelrodIn addition to his own lecture contribution based on his excellent research and considerable knowledge of opera and music, Art is responsible for technical assistance to other docents and audio-visual presentation of the lectures.  Art's inspiration and leadership in developing this program have been indispensable.

Called the "Opera Lecture/Listening Series," it was recognized in 2009 by the editor of the Opera Volunteers International newsletter, and compared favorably to the lectures given at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Many of the lectures can be found on our Lectures page and are available for download free of charge.

Art was also involved in planning for the formation of The Mercury Opera of Rochester in 2003-2005; he served as a member of the board and stepped up to become Treasurer when the former Treasurer died suddenly.  When Mercury Opera ceased production, Art was a principal in the decision that the Opera Guild become an independent organization, taking over the Mercury not-for-profit corporation with a change of name.  It is this organization which is the current Opera Guild of Rochester.

He performs many functions for the organization in addition to his services for the lecture/listening series:  designing the invitations and program for the Annual Donor Recital,  managing the subscriber data base, providing technical assistance with mailings, servicing the Guild's computer, and assisting with planning as a member of the Development Committee.  His advice as a member of the Board is always well-regarded and firmly grounded in the Guild's mission to support and improve opera activities in the greater Rochester region.  His work is a testimony to the immense effect one individual can have on the success of an enterprise, and the Opera Guild's effectiveness is due in no small part to his participation.