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Photo: David Alan Miller

The 10 most significant individual contributors to the performing arts in theater, dance, cinema and classical music of the past 30 years

The vast array of significant arts institutions in the Capital Region would be nothing without the impressive careers and contributions of the individuals who have built and sustained them. Topping the list of significant individual contributions in the performing arts is David Alan Miller, musical director and conductor of the Albany Symphony Orchestra. Miller has established himself as a prominent conductor of American classical music, and under his 17-year leadership the ASO has regularly premiered new works of American modern classical music. Miller’s extraordinary career includes frequent gigs as a guest conductor for major metropolitan orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Of course, we like to think his most significant work is done right here in Albany.

Bookending the list at No. 9 and 10 with their own contributions to the area’s classical music scene are Ann Marie Barker-Schwartz, founder of chamber music ensemble Musicians of Ma’Alwyck and Dan Berkenblit, director of the acclaimed Union College Chamber Music series.

In the No. 2 spot, relative newcomer Philip Morris, CEO of Proctor’s Theater led a $30 million makeover of the historic Schenectady theater, recreating Proctors as a comprehensive performing arts center. Proctors’ offerings and operating budget have more than quadrupled since Morris took on the charge seven years ago. In Albany, Egg executive director Peter Lesser has invigorated the Empire State Plaza’s infamous ellipsoid.

Maude Baum, the Grande Dame of area dance, founding member of eba and artistic director of Maude Baum and Company Dance Theatre, has been working in the field of dance theater for more than 45 years. Her multi-award-winning career as a dancer, choreographer, educator and arts advocate has deeply shaped the area’s vivid dance life, along with the contributions of Ellen Sinopoli, artistic director of Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company, the Egg’s 16-year-strong resident dance company.

And in the realm of theater, Patricia Snyder’s decades-long commitment to educational theater brought about the New York State Theatre Institute, the New York’s professional educational theater company, for which Snyder continues to serve as Producing Artistic Director. The company’s commitment to offering high-quality theater, innovative arts education, international creative exchange, and producing new work earned NYSTI folks two spots on the list. Ed. Lange, who served as NYSTI’s associate artistic director for 25 years was designated No. 5 for his influential work as a director, playwright, educator and arts administrator. Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill, Capital Repertory Theatre Producing Artistic Director secured the 6th-place honor, just as the theater announced their 29th season . . . one more year till another proud 30th!

Survey respondents ranked up to 10 choices, and points were tallied as follows: 10 for 1st place, 9 for 2nd, and so on.

1. David Alan Miller (34)

2. Phillip Morris (25)

3. Maude Baum (24)

4. Patricia Snyder (22)

5. Ed. Lange (20)

6. Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill (18)

7. Ellen Sinopoli (17)

8. Peter Lesser (13)

9. Ann Marie Barker-Schwartz (11)

10. Dan Berkenblit (10)

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