What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Unless you’re William Freyd and Diane Jones Carlson, who live in Las Vegas during the winter and coming to Chautauqua Institution during the summer.
And thanks to their enduring generosity, Freyd and Carlson will be sponsoring the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra Independence Day Pops Celebration at 8 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater, featuring guest conductor Stuart Chafetz, vocalist Nicole Parker, pianist Aldo López-Gavilán, and violinist Ilmar Gavilán.
“This concert is always one of the best of the summer,” Carlson said. “It’s wonderfully patriotic, and a family concert, and that’s what we love about it. Every time we’ve sponsored it, the pops conductor has been Stuart Chafetz. One of the reasons we sponsored, too, is because we like Stu so much.”
Freyd and Carlson befriended Chafetz through their sponsorship, this marking the sixth year they’ve underwritten the Fourth of July performance.
Carlson, a native of Jamestown, New York, was exposed to opera and classical music at Chautauqua Institution as a young child.
“I saw my first opera at Chautauqua, which was Carmen,” Carlson said. “And I saw my first symphony at Chautauqua.”
Her husband, Freyd, a native of Chicago, would watch the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra perform as a 10-year-old. Since then, Freyd has served as a president of the Las Vegas Philharmonic, a founder of SFS Entertainment — where he acts and produces musicals — and also is a founder of the fundraising firm, IDC Limited.
Carlson, also a fundraiser, is the CEO of 1-2-1 Philanthropic Services, Inc., an organization that consults higher education and nonprofit organizations throughout the country.
Carlson and Freyd met each other through fundraising in New Jersey, and have since come to Chautauqua for 30 years.
“We enjoy our house in Bemus [Point],” Carlson said. “And we enjoy Chautauqua every summer. It’s really something to look forward to.”
Given their busy professional schedules, returning to the Institution each summer presents itself as a nice little reward.
“It’s so fantastic,” Carlson said. “It’s really like going to a liberal arts college. In addition to that, I have a lot of family here. We come back for Chautauqua, my family and the lake — and probably in that order.”
Carlson and Freyd intend to continue their involvement at the Institution for years to come.
“The intensity and breadth of the programs in a nine-week period is just a truly incredible annual achievement,” Freyd said. “It’s just a pleasure and a privilege to be able to help support Chautauqua.”