Zack honored with Singletary Center plaque

Reed Polk (right) and Marlie McRoberts (left of plaque) unveil a plaque of longtime Lexington Philharmonic music director George Zack as Zack, his wife Kerry and one of their grandsons looks on. © Herald-Leader staff photos by Rich Copley.

For decades George Zack has been a big part of the Singletary Center for the Arts. That become somewhat literal Friday night as the Lexington Philharmonic Guild unveiled a bronze plaque in honor of the orchestra’s music director from 1972 to 2009.

“One person can make a difference, and George Zack is a prime example of that,” said former Lexington vice-mayor and longtime arts supporter Isabel Yates at an unveiling ceremony prior to Friday’s Philharmonic concert. “He is a cultural icon in the city of Lexington.”

The plaque is displayed in the lobby of the Singletary Center on the corridor between the concert hall and recital hall.

Concertmaster Dan Mason, who celebrates his 30th anniversary in his post next year, jokingly thanked George for, “putting your trust in a 10-year-old concertmaster,” congratulating his longtime collaborator.

“This is a momentous occasion, not just for George and his family but also for this region,” Mason said. “Under George’s direction, the Lexington Philharmonic became a pillar of the city.”

Accepting the honor, Zack said the one thing missing from the plaque was his wife, Kerry, who he said was a critical part of his 37-year tenure at the Philharmonic. Zack’s wedding band is visible in the bronze that shows Zack in the midst of conducting. It was made by Amanda Matthews and Brad Connell of Prometheus Foundry in Lexington.

The plate below the plaque reads, in part, “The People’s Maestro … Beloved maestro who shared his knowledge, enthusiasm and great love of music in the Singletary Center concert hall and throughout the Lexington Community.”

Zack noted that when he arrived in Lexington, the Philharmonic had yet to play some signature works in the symphonic repertoire including symphonies by Franz Joseph Haydn and Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. They and many more pieces had their Lexington premieres under Zack’s baton, and Zack said, “It has been a privilege to plow that ground with you and for you.”

In 2009, Scott Terrell succeeded Zack as music director, and he said at the ceremony that it was immediately clear to him the rich legacy that Zack created with the Philharmonic.

Zack closed saying to the audience, “Into Scott’s hands I commend the spirit of this orchestra. May it live forever, and it will, because of you.”

Bronze sculptor Amanda Matthews (at the microphone) spoke before the unveiling of the plaque as George and Kerry Zack, sculptor Brad Connell and master of ceremonies Reed Polk look on.

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