ELEANOR CROWFORD BLITZER (Genni) is a pediatrician practicing in Cape Coral. She started the viola when she was 13 and only gave up orchestra for three years, during residency at Boston City Hospital. Her husband Peter and her five children are her best fans. She feels blessed to be able to play in the Gulf Coast Symphony.
ALFONSO GIORDANO (Principal Viola) was born in Port Washington, NY and his family moved to Cape Coral in 1979, at which time he started piano lessons. He chose to play violin in middle school and became concertmaster of the local youth symphony. He studied with Betty Haines from age 12 to graduation and then switched to viola in college, studying with William Hayden and Kathy Aagard. He played with the Charlotte Symphony for 11 years and is a founding member of the Gulf Coast Symphony. In his spare time he owns and runs Maria’s Pizzeria and Restaurant in Cape Coral with his brother.
FLORENCE OHLBERG has been playing viola and violin professionally since the age of 18, beginning with the Phillips String Quartet. During this time, she studied at Carnegie Mellon University with Hugo Kolberg, concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony under Fritz Reiner. She left Pittsburgh to become violist with the New Orleans Symphony from 1951 to 1954, under conductor Alexander Hilsburg and prominent guest conductors, including Leopold Stokowski. She returned to Pittsburgh in 1954 to marry, and reduced her musical activity to be an “at home mom,” though continued to maintain an active string quartet group. She gradually returned to playing professionally, performing full schedules in the tri-state area in as many as six orchestras in a season, including Wheeling, WV, Youngstown and Warren, OH, and Johnstown, Butler, Greensberg, and McKeesport, PA. She generally played principal viola in these orchestras and served in that capacity with the McKeesport Symphony through 2003 prior to moving to Florida.
Beginning in 1972, Mrs. Ohlberg was principal violist in the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera Orchestra at Heinz Hall for 18 summer seasons. For three years, she served as principal in the Knoxville, TN symphony, flying in from Pittsburgh monthly during the season. She was principal violist for three summers for the American Symphony Orchestra League orchestra at Orkney Springs, VA under conductor Richard Lert. She played principal violist in an orchestra that appeared in Pittsburgh with Pavarotti, Sutherland, Placido Domingo, and a smaller group that appeared with Liberace, Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, and notably Rudolf Nuryev and Margot Fonteyn. Her solo work included performances with the Johnstown Symphony and the Young Men and Women’s Hebrew Association concert series with Joanna Simon (which including artists such as Nathan Milstien, Van Cliburn, and Peter Serkin).
In 1986, with the opening of the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh, Mrs. Ohlberg was principal violist in the center’s orchestra serving the Pittsburgh Opera Company and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater. She remained in that orchestra until 1999; her service included being a member of the orchestra committee whose main purpose was to negotiate the orchestra’s contracts.
She was a player with the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble (David Stock, conductor) from 1974 to 1999. The group enjoyed an active recording schedule with concerts recorded by National Public Radio and several commissioned commercial recordings. She was Personnel Manager for the last 8 years it existed.
Mrs. Ohlberg played violin in the Romanza Trio with a cellist and pianist, performing classics, light classics and show music at corporate events and social affairs at the most elegant venues in the Pittsburgh area. She also contracted extensively for orchestral performances that included up to 35 players, performing mainly Requiems with professional church choirs.
She has the distinction of being the first elected woman of the Executive Board of the Pittsburgh local branch of the American Federation of Musicians, serving 4 years in that capacity.
RICHARD SKEWES has Ph.D. in Music from The University of Iowa and is the Director of Orchestras in Willmar, Red Wing, St Cloud, all in Minnesota. He served as a judge and clinician in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Texas. Richard is a professional pianist, violinist and violist. He enjoys playing in orchestras and string quartets. Richard spends seven winter months in Florida and five summer months in Faribault, MN. He plays both violin and viola in the Gulf Coast Symphony.