Pictured above: Robert “Charlie” Knapp, Karl Knapp, Judy Knapp, Jamie-Rose Guarrine

The Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO) is pleased to announce a generous gift from Robert “Charlie” and Judy Knapp to endow and name a section cello chair in the orchestra: The Knapp Family Chair. The MSO musician who currently holds the Knapp Family Chair is cellist Karen Cornelius. Karen has been a member of the orchestra since 2004.

The Knapp Family Chair endowment holds special meaning for the Knapps. We asked Charlie (RCK) to share a few thoughts about his and Judy’s decision to make this significant gift.

MSO: Please tell our readers about your family’s longtime connection with the MSO.

RCK: My wife, Judy, and I have been MSO season ticket holders for some twenty years. Over that time, we have spent many enjoyable Sunday afternoons, first having lunch with friends and then attending an MSO performance. It’s been a ritual for a long time, but what made so many of those concerts in the early years extra special for us was seeing our son Karl Knapp playing in the cello section while he was completing his DMA at UW-Madison.

The MSO afforded Karl his first professional exposure. He had played in the cello sections of WYSO and his university orchestra (Illinois Wesleyan) before joining MSO in 2001. His connections to MSO were building—one of his Illinois Wesleyan professors was MSO’s principal cellist, Karl Lavine! Our son’s marriage to the lyric soprano Jamie-Rose Guarrine formed another connection to the Orchestra. He fondly remembers a memorable performance of Mahler’s 8th Symphony in April/May 2005, closing the MSO’s first season in Overture Hall, with his wife Jamie-Rose as one of the vocal soloists and cellist Parry Karp as his stand-mate. Mr. Karp would later become Karl’s major professor for completing his DMA.

MSO: How did you and Judy arrive at the decision to endow a chair?

RCK: It seemed fitting to Judy and me that as we approach some significant anniversary dates for the Madison Symphony Orchestra and Karl’s association with it that we endow a chair in the cello section to help build a measure of stability in the section and the Orchestra itself. It’s our way of saying “thank you” to the many talented musicians of the Orchestra.

Upon learning that her chair had been endowed, MSO cellist Karen Cornelius said, “I am very grateful for the Knapps’ gift to the Madison Symphony Orchestra to endow a cello section chair! The vitality and viability of the Orchestra are dependent on contributions, such as theirs, and on our ticket-buying audience, of which the Knapps have been a part for many years. As we have finished one season and are looking forward to our next season beginning in September, their gift will help to ensure that the cycle continues. Many of us knew Karl Knapp, and he and I were stand partners for a couple of years before he moved away!”

Please join the MSO in thanking the Knapp Family for their generous endowment gift! A list of available naming opportunities can be viewed at madisonsymphony.org/endowment. Chair namings begin at $75,000. Contact Director of Development, Casey Oelkers, to discuss a potential gift.