In his youth, Carl Calabrese dreamed of learning to play the violin. His parents weren’t in agreement and suggested their son pursue a more profitable calling.
Not one to be discouraged, Calabrese combined his love of art and music by creating his own path, one that included designing and building specialty furniture.
“He expressed his artistic talents by creating beautiful furniture pieces,” his wife, Janet, said. “He owned a successful antique business above his furniture store where he would collect paintings and musical instruments just to fuel his passion.”
When health issues forced him into an early semi-retirement, Calabrese saw it as a sign to reconnect with a long-forgotten dream, the violin.
“When he retired, he started to look for other outlets to express his artistic talents. So he began taking violin lessons,” Janet said. “He had a wonderful teacher, Charlie Andell, whom he studied under for many years. He just loved it!”
For 25 years, Calabrese played with the Jamestown Community Orchestra and in the orchestra for the Living Christmas Tree. Calabrese also spent happy times playing the fiddle in a local bluegrass band, Fox Run.
“Our life together was just full of beautiful music,” Janet said.
However, over the years, Calabrese never forgot how he felt as a child not being able to pursue this passion. He became a founding member of the Jamestown Orchestra of Youth, now known as the Chautauqua Regional Youth Symphony, and spent years as its treasurer and board member.
As continued health complications forced Calabrese to slow down, he stepped back from performing, although he and Janet continued to attend local music events. They took a trip to Italy to experience the food, the wine, and the arts firsthand.
“It was the trip of a lifetime,” Janet said. “As we sat in the audience of a musical opera, just a little local one, you could see Carl getting emotional, he was just so happy.”
When his health continued to decline, Janet approached Calabrese with the idea of starting a music scholarship in his honor.
“I wanted to have his approval,” Janet said. “Music is what made Carl happy and nothing should hold you back from doing what you love.”
Following Calabrese’s passing in April, The Carl S. Calabrese Music Scholarship was officially created at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. It will provide an annual award to undergraduate and graduate students pursuing music education or another music related field.
“Carl was an inquisitive and talented man who always accepted a challenge,” Janet said. “He found it very fulfilling making friends, as well as making beautiful music, and when you make music, you can’t help but make friends.”