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Paul Robert Simón, In Memoriam

Photo of Paul Simon

Paul Robert Simón
President, Ariel Board of Directors

From Executive Director
Lora Lynn Snow

Paul Simón, President of the Ariel Board of Directors, passed away February 25, 2021. He transformed the board bringing in members with a wide variety of professional skills and he led us ever upward as we completed the restoration of our 1895 opera house. He will be greatly missed.

Paul was a renaissance man. He ran his farm but once owned an antique shop. He was head of the Mason County Emergency Team that stepped in to work at a moment’s notice, and he collected art. While working on the Main Street Committee he found out a community’s ranking could be elevated with certain amenities so he started an art gallery in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Through his many contacts he was able to get the Pitcairn family to loan art work to The Gallery at 409 – and while he was at it, he also found a soloist in the same family for The Ohio Valley Symphony.On the left is a horse nuzzling up to Paul Simon, wearing work close and hat, on the right.

Paul worked with the Mason County Community Foundation that dispersed funds to worthy organizations and he was able to convince them to fund a string program facilitated by the OVS in the schools. He was a Rotarian and came to that via his father, Dr. Mel Simon, who ran a medical mission in the Philippines for over 30 years with Rotary support and with Paul’s help. Paul’s family home is a beautifully restored historic home, circa 1860.

Paul was a man of many interests, and he loved the Ariel and The Ohio Valley Symphony. He introduced numerous people to the symphony by inviting them to come and sit with him in what he liked to call “President’s Row.” Sometimes he would even escort them there in his limousine – a favorite story for him was how he traded a golf cart for that classic limo!

Paul loved people and he was always at concerts greeting people as they came in and spending time with them at concert receptions. He had a great gift for conversation and made it a point to get to know audience members and artists alike. Paul could easily speak with everyone from farmers to the governor and find common ground. If someone was in the hospital or in trouble and needing help, Paul was there to lend a shoulder and a hand.

These times of social distancing keeps us from those we care about, keeps us from gathering to mourn and to celebrate, keeps us from sharing the beauty of the music of The Ohio Valley Symphony. When we can safely return to the stage and once again elevate people to that place only music can take us, we will do a concert to honor Paul Simón and our journey together to make the Ariel Opera House what it is today.

A private family service was held on Monday, March 1st, 2021 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Point Pleasant, WV, followed by memorial service and interment at the Ohio Valley Memory Gardens in Gallipolis, OH. In lieu of flowers, please consider supporting the organizations that Paul was passionate about: the Ariel Ann-Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre in Gallipolis, OH, the Community Foundation of Mason County in Point Pleasant, WV and Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Point Pleasant, WV.

To donate to the Ariel and The Ohio Valley Symphony in memory of Paul, please click the Paypal link below.

From the Ariel Board of Directors…

Tracy Stewart Call, President

“Our friend Paul found real power in giving, especially to the Ariel. He showed us how giving is a two sided thing. First, it’s what it does to yourself. It gives you the experience of others, their personalities and families and it also lets other people experience you. I think Paul showed us how giving helps make us kinder while building something for the community.”

Jason Holdren, Vice President

Paul was a man of integrity and strength and his was a life based on giving back to our community. He had a gift of communication that put everyone at ease. He loved his family, the community, the arts and the Ariel.

Chris Petro, Treasurer

“Paul was a family man who was so passionate about his community and country. He was so full of life! Paul had an intense drive and focus to grow the performing arts and The Ohio Valley Symphony within our region. Just a solid leader and fun person to be around. We will miss you Paul.”

Jenny Evans, Esq., Secretary

“A life lived fully, with joy and appreciation of art and all good things!”

Mike Owens

“The phrase “Patron of the Arts” in our part of the Ohio Valley has meant Paul Simón. His outstanding contributions to local music at the Ariel Opera House and visual arts at the Gallery at 409 will be sorely missed. We who are grieving his loss must now carry his torch and continue to realize his dreams.”

Judy Holland

“Paul became one of our first friends when we moved to Mason county. He introduced himself to us at the first OVS concert that we attended and quickly became a friend. He got John involved with CERT and got both of us involved in becoming licensed Amateur Radio Operators, as well as getting us involved in personal defense training. But his greatest love was for the symphony.That’s where most of his time and interest was devoted and that’s where we spent our most enjoyable times together. It was Paul who asked me if I would be interested in serving as a Board Member for the Ariel and OVS. I said I would and I’m pleased to say that I am still serving.”

Steven Huang

Paul and his family are dedicated to a thriving classical music and fine arts presence in our community. Whether it was serving as our Board President, attending every symphony performance, shuttling his son to violin lessons, or hosting post-performance receptions, Paul was always with us. His spirit shall remain with us always, in the theater that he helped restore, and with the symphony he cherishes so dearly.

Lora Snow, Founder and Executive Director

Paul Simón was a great leader and arts connoisseur and a wonderful friend to all who knew him. He will be greatly missed but his work as president ensured that we have a strong and capable board that will carry on his fine work of bringing arts to the region.

(Paul’s online obituary can be found here.)

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Ariel Academy Online Music Lessons

Ariel Academy LogoThe Ariel Academy is designed to help you find a teacher to guide you through your musical journeys. Whether you need to find a piano teacher for your first grader or are a professional taking orchestral auditions, a college student needing help with music theory or an aspiring composer needing guidance, you can set up one or more lessons with one of The Ohio Valley Symphony’s musicians.

Now is your opportunity to study music digitally right from the comfort of your own home with professional musicians who have a solid background of education and experience. Peruse the choices, contact one or more and then set up a time convenient for you both. Make this time at home count.

Start your music teacher search!

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Ariel Opera House COVID-19 Statement

Following the order of the Governor of the State of Ohio, the Ariel Opera House is temporarily closed due to COVID-19.

Virtual music lessons will be available via the Ariel Academy. Watch this page for updates!

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200425 Poster POSTPONED
Date to be determined
at 7:30 p.m.

On Sale Soon

What’s better than one horn soloist? How about 4 of them! The entire horn section of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Erik Ralske, Hugo Valverde, Javier Gandara and Barbara Jöstlein Currie, is coming to the Ariel stage to perform the magnificent Schumann Konzertstück for 4 Horns on April 25th.  I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say you will be blown away! The OVS will also play one of my personal favorites, Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring.

Conductor Miriam Burns

Miriam Burns was on staff with the New York Philharmonic as one of their Cover Conductors from 1999-2007, having been appointed by Kurt Masur as a result of a competitive audition by-invitation-only.  In this capacity, she accompanied the orchestra on tour to the Far East as the tour Assistant Conductor to Music Director Lorin Maazel, and for eight years was entrusted as an assistant conductor on call for countless specific, fully prepared programs under many guest conductors of international repute.

Now in her eighth season as Music Director and Conductor of the Tysons McLean Orchestra (VA), Ms. Burns continues as Music Director of The Orchestra of the Redeemer in New York City since 1995.  Recent prior Music Directorships include the Tallahassee Symphony, the Kenosha Symphony and the Lawton Philharmonic. 

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Ohio Arts Council Governor’s Awards for the Arts Winner


Lora Snow, Executive Director
at the Ariel-Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre,
Home of the Ohio Valley Symphony

Lora Lynn Snow is the founder and executive director of the Ariel-Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre in Gallipolis, home of the Ohio Valley Symphony. Lora, an oboist, was inspired in 1987 to form a professional orchestra in Gallia County and recognized the amazing acoustics in the long-neglected 1895 Ariel Opera House that had been abandoned for 25 years. Lora spearheaded the restoration and set about to organize the community toward the grand reopening of the historic Ariel in 1990 with a performance of the Ohio Valley Symphony. Mrs. Ann Carson Dater gifted the Ariel as a permanent home to the Ohio Valley Symphony (OVS) in 2005, which added an additional theatre, conference room, and banquet rooms. The OVS, now in its 30th season as the only professional orchestra in the Ohio River Valley, recently premiered Songs of Rural America on PBS nationwide with folk singer Michael Johnathon.

Ohio Arts Council LogoHaving a holistic view of the arts, Lora also established a music education program, a double reed festival, a community theatre troupe, and OVS woodwind and dance programs at the Ariel. An active recitalist, clinician, and consultant with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music performance and education from the Ohio State University, Lora has taught at several universities and public schools covering kindergarten through graduate level inclusive. She is principal oboist for the Ohio Valley Symphony and OVS Woodwind Quintet, a member of the West Virginia Symphony, and a freelance musician.


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Our #FeaturedFriday doubles as a #FlashbackFriday today as we take a look at the Ariel-Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre in Gallipolis, Ohio. The first image in this video is from the opera house’s grand opening celebration in 1895, and the second is a photo taken in 2019 by #OHGovernorsAwards2020 #ArtsAdministration award winner Lora Lynn Snow. A professional oboist and Gallipolis resident, Lora was integral to the restoration of this architectural and artistic jewel in Southeast Ohio. . Under Lora’s leadership, the community came together to clear the pigeon manure and other debris that had collected in the Ariel during its 25 years of disuse. Inspired by the opera house’s marvelous acoustics, Lora envisioned the restored space as a top-class performance venue for internationally renowned musicians and ensembles, including the Ohio Valley Symphony (OVS), the only professional orchestra in the Ohio River valley. In 1990, the newly restored Ariel Opera House celebrated its grand opening with a performance by the Symphony, and it has since welcomed many guest conductors and artists to its stage, including folk singer Michael Johnathon, who recently performed “Songs of Rural America” with the OVS in a concert that was nationally broadcast on PBS. . As executive director of the Ariel-Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre, Lora has worked to engage audiences through a holistic view of the arts, establishing at the Ariel a music education program, a double reed festival, a community theatre troupe, OVS woodwind and dance programs, and more. She is principal oboist for the Ohio Valley Symphony and OVS Woodwind Quintet, a member of the West Virginia Symphony, and a freelance musician. . We’re thrilled to recognize Lora’s passionate dedication to leadership in the arts with this award! Come celebrate with us and learn more about Lora and all our winners at the 2020 Governor’s Awards luncheon on March 25. Get your tickets today via the link in our bio! . Photos courtesy of Lora Lynn Snow | #ArtsAdministration #OhioArtists #ArtsOhio #ArielOperaHouse #Gallipolis #OhioHistory #OperaHouse

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