The Alabama Symphony Orchestra has been fortunate to be the recipient of many generous gifts to its endowment fund over several years—the endowment fund now stands at more than $13 million in assets. Four extraordinary donors have stepped forward with incredibly generous support and endowed chairs within the orchestra. In recognition of these special acts of philanthropy, the Board of Directors of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra proudly named the following principal chairs after these wonderful community leaders. In perpetuity, the names of these donors will always be associated with these principal orchestra positions. For information concerning gifts to the endowment fund or endowing a chair, please contact the ASO Development Office at 205.314.6902.
The Elton B. Stephens Chair
Mr. Elton B. Stephens
Founder and Chairman in Memoriam Aeternam
Elton B. Stephens could be called the grandfather of the re-born Alabama Symphony Orchestra. In 1995 he was approached by Lant Davis, Joan Parker and Rae Trimmier and asked to help re-establish the bankrupt ASO. A man who loved a challenge, he accepted eagerly — his desire to help bring the orchestra back partly driven by his wife Alys Stephens' love of classical music. In January 1995, he initiated a $15 million campaign to restore the ASO to the stages and schools of the Greater Birmingham Area. Two years later, on September 11, 1997, the orchestra performed its first concert at the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. By endowing the Music Director Chair with a major gift, Mr. Stephens led the way for other generous donors in the community to step forward. Today, the ASO benefits from an endowment fund of more than $12 million — a living memorial to its beloved Chairman, Elton B. Stephens. The ASO is deeply appreciative that he stepped forward and helped the orchestra regain its place in the heart of a grateful community.
The Beverly Head and Hugh Kaul Chair
Mr. Beverly Head & Mr. Hugh Kaul
The ASO proudly honors the accomplishments and leadership of Beverly P. Head, III and Hugh Kaul with the naming of the concertmaster chair in their honor. A Birmingham community and business leader, Mr. Head demonstrated his love of learning and a sense of intellectual curiosity through his many avenues of service. He was a member of the Hugh Kaul Foundation Distribution Committee, a President of the Rotary Club, a member of the Children's Hospital Board of Directors and a member of the Executive Committee of the ASO. A graduate from Yale College and Yale Law School, Mr. Head held numerous corporate and civic leadership posts during his life.
Hugh Kaul served four terms in the Alabama Legislature. He organized the Alabama Forestry Association with the goal of promoting conservation throughout the forest products industry in Alabama. As a philanthropist, he thought and acted on a large scale – supporting almost every charity in Birmingham. In 1989 he created the Hugh Kaul Foundation with a gift of timber rights. Since inception the Foundation has awarded more than $40 million to more than 250 local organizations.
Concertmaster | The Beverly Head & Hugh Kaul Chair
Active as a concert soloist, chamber musician, and recitalist, Daniel Szasz has been the concertmaster of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra since 1997. Born in Romania, in the Transylvanian city of Sibiu, Mr. Szasz began playing the violin at age six under the supervision of his father, a former principal trumpet player with the Sibiu State Philharmonic Orchestra. At the age of eight he played his first solo recital, and at thirteen he made his solo debut with a professional orchestra. Mr. Szasz has won numerous awards, including the "Public Prize" at the Vittorio Gui International Chamber Music Competition in Florence, Italy, playing with his wife, pianist Alina Voicu. In 2004, in collaboration with the Sibiu State Philharmonic Orchestra, Mr. Szasz initiated the establishment of the "Romanian-American Music Days" in Sibiu, Romania, an annual summer music festival that promotes American music and supports active professional interactions between Romanian and American musicians. In the summer of 2006, Mr. Szasz won the position of concertmaster for the Lake Placid Sinfonietta, an annual summer music festival orchestra in Lake Placid, New York.
For Mr. Szasz's full biography, please click here.
The Mrs. R. Hugh Daniel Chair
Martha Stone Cobb Daniel
Martha Stone Cobb Daniel, affectionately known as "Stone," settled in Birmingham when her husband R. Hugh Daniel founded the Alabama division of Daniel Construction Inc. Mrs. Daniel and her family were active supporters of the cultural activities of the city, especially the old Birmingham Symphony and the Birmingham Museum of Art. In 1991, was awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters by Birmingham-Southern College. She also served as Chairman of the Board of the Daniel Foundation of Alabama. Mrs. Daniel's enjoyment of and interest in the orchestra remained constant through the years. When the Alabama Symphony was reorganized in 1995, she endowed a chair for the position of the harpist in the orchestra. Her longtime love of the piano also led her to donate the Steinway concert grand piano that is used in Jemison Concert Hall.
Judith Sullivan Hicks
Principal Harp | The Mrs. R. Hugh Daniel Chair
Judy Sullivan Hicks has been the Principal Harpist of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra since 1981. She received her Master of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music. Before that she attended the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she received her Bachelor of Music degree. She is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Adademy, Interlochen, MI. Judy maintains a busy teaching studio here in Birmingham and has served on the faculties of Vanderbilt University, Samford University and the University of Alabama. She has appeared as a soloist with the ASO and the Tuscaloosa Symphony.
For Ms. Hicks' full biography, please click here.
The Symphony Volunteer Council Chairs
The Symphony Volunteer Council of the Alabama Symphonic Association, Inc. is the largest volunteer organization supporting the orchestra. During the rebirth of the ASO in 1995, the Symphony Volunteer Council committed to raise $2 million for the ASO's endowment fund. In recognition of achieving the first $1 million, the Principal Clarinet Chair was endowed by the Council. After a very successful 2010 Decorators' ShowHouse, the Council completed the second $1 million of its pledge and endowed the Principal Horn Chair.
Principal Clarinet | The Symphony Volunteer Council Chair
Kathleen Costello was appointed the position of Principal Clarinet with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra in 2006. She continues to spend time in Pittsburgh, where she performs with the ensemble the IonSound Project, which she helped to found in 2004. She graduated with a Master of Music degree from Duquesne University, where she studied with Pittsburgh Symphony clarinetist, Ron Samuels, and holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Northwestern University.
Kathleen has held positions with the Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater Orchestra, the Youngstown Symphony and the McKeesport Symphony. She has also performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Charleston Symphony, the Canton Symphony, the Wheeling Symphony and the Renaissance City Winds.
For Ms. Costello's full biography, please click here.
Principal Horn | The Symphony Volunteer Council Chair
A native of Rhode Island, David Pandolfi began his career with the Rhode Island Philharmonic while attending the New England Conservatory of Music. Mr. Pandolfi has been principal horn of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra since 1973 and has been featured as a soloist on the orchestra's Masterworks series, performing works of Strauss, Mozart, and Britten. He has also appeared as a soloist with the Montgomery Symphony.
Mr. Pandolfi is a member of the adjunct faculties of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Montevello, and was a founding member of the Ambassador Brass Quintet.
For Mr. Pandolfi's full biography, please click here.