WSU Music Alumni
Marilyn Smith entered Wright State University in 1976 as a “non-traditional” student in the Department of Music. Her first degree was a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Michigan in 1956. It had always been her desire to pursue a music degree. It took a lot of perseverance and seven years as a part-time student while raising her family to finish her degree, a Bachelor of Music in History and Literature, cum laude, in 1983.
While at Wright State, Ms. Smith studied voice, piano, and harpsichord, eventually settling on a semi-professional career goal as a harpsichordist. Following graduation, she spent twelve summers at Oberlin College as a harpsichordist at the Baroque Performance Institute, and ten summers at the University of Michigan for harpsichord workshop studies with Professor Edward Parmentier. She feels she owes her professional skills to Julane Rodgers and Martha Folts, her inspirational harpsichord teachers. Her mentors at Wright State were Professor Charles Larkowski and Professor Martha Wurtz.
Since graduation, Ms. Smith’s life has centered around harpsichord performing and arts volunteering. She has held board positions with the Dayton Opera Guild, the Dayton Bach Society, the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and the Dayton Philharmonic Volunteer Association. She is a member of the Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity, holding the position of Province Vice-President from 1984-90. She was a member of the Dayton Bach Society for over 22 years as a singer; one of her proudest accomplishments with the Bach Society was spearheading a drive to raise funds to purchase a chamber organ to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the society. The group raised $27,000 in less than two months.
Ms. Smith’s volunteer work with the DPVA has been primarily in the Educational programs. She has been a docent since 1993 working to bring music knowledge to elementary school students and prepare them to attend the DPO Young People’s Concerts; for many years she also wrote the scripts for these presentations. Her music history degree assisted her greatly. In 2001-2003 she held the position of President of the Dayton Philharmonic Volunteer Association. She is currently Vice-President and advisor of this organization.
During Ms. Smith’s term of office the DPVA ran three successful fund-raisers, the 2001 and 2003 Designers Show House & Gardens, and the 50th Anniversary International Gourmet Gala. These events enabled them to contribute over $75,000 each year to the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. They also awarded scholarships to the young musicians in the Miami Valley which totaled over $12,000 each year and assisted the orchestra in presenting the most educational offerings of any orchestra in the country! She is currently in her first year of a three year term as a member of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra Board of Trustees.Ms. Smith is honored to have been chosen by Wright State University for it’s Department of Music’s 2004 Outstanding Alumni Award. Although her life since graduation has centered around arts volunteering and not full time employment, she knows that her degree from Wright State has made it all possible. It has been very rewarding for her to have a part in bringing music appreciation to the young people of our community. Her choral experience with the Bach Society and harpsichord performances have fed her soul and she feels very blessed. She feels that this award is really in honor of all the many arts volunteers in this community.