Monday, November 14, 2011

Symphony honors longtime booster Bernstein

The Charlotte Symphony paid tribute Friday night to one of its most faithful backers: Mark Bernstein, who has been a board member, donor and concertgoer for half a century.

Before Friday night's all-Mozart program at the Belk Theater, Bernstein received the orchestra's Sally Ann Hall Spirit of the Symphony Award. The award, presented each year, memorializes another longtime supporter of the orchestra.

Presenting the award, executive director Jonathan Martin noted that when Bernstein was on the orchestra's board of directors int he 1980s, he was drawn in to the point of serving on the board of the nationwide association now known as the League of American Orchestras. Bernstein put in a year as the group's president.

Bernstein has played an array of other roles in the city's arts community. Two decades ago, he served with the groups that planned and raised money for the building of the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. More recently, he worked for the building of what is now the Levine Center for the Arts on South Tryon Street.

Besides being the recipient of numerous community awards, Bernstein was honored a few months ago by his own family. As a birthday present, they sponsored in his name a new ballet that was performed by N.C. Dance Theatre.

Accepting the Hall award, Bernstein said he had received more from working with the orchestra than he gave. He urged the people in the audience to pitch in with the orchestra, too.

"Support it," Bernstein said. "Do what you can for it. Take care of it. It's one of our most important assets."

Bernstein said