Board Member Video Spotlight: Why is Candlelight so Special?
Officer and Director Biographies
Jerome W. Weinstein, President
For most of Jerry Weinstein’s professional career, he served as an economist in the Department of Defense, specializing in foreign economies and international comparisons. Upon retiring, he started a small photography business, specializing in decorative and fine art photographs. That led to his association with the Artists’ Gallery, recently moved to Ellicott City after many years in Columbia, and to many connections with the arts community in Howard County.
When one of the Candlelight Board members offered him tickets to a couple of chamber music concerts, Jerry was hooked. So, for many years, he and his wife, Etarae, have been faithful season ticket holders. About three years ago, Jerry was approached about joining the Board of Directors of Candlelight, and that led directly to his becoming increasingly involved in the operations and management of the organization.
Jerry is currently leading the organization, and over the past year has seen substantial change, including hiring a new Executive Director, adding several new people to the Board, and undertaking a massive strategic planning process that will enable Candlelight to plan not only for its current activities, but to begin looking out into the future, with a particular goal of planning for Candlelight Concert Society’s 50th year.
Helen R. Weems, Vice President
A Candlelight Concert brought Helen Weems to Columbia for the first time in 1991, and it is with great pleasure that she now serves on Candlelight’s Board of Directors. Helen maintains an independent piano studio in Columbia, and holds several music degrees, including a Master of Music degree from the Peabody Conservatory.
She is a nationally certified member of the Music Teachers National Association, and has been an on-air classical music host for public radio stations KSOZ-FM (Missouri) and WJHU-FM (Maryland). She has also worked in ethnomusicology and law. Ms. Weems serves as Vice President of the Candlelight Concert Society, and Vice President for Certification with the Maryland State Music Teachers Association. She is president of the Greater Columbia Music Teachers Association, and is a past president of the Howard County Music Teachers Association.
She is the Music Director of the charming St. Luke’s Brighton Episcopal Church, organizes holiday caroling for the Harper’s Glen Townhouse Association, and is a member of People for Bikes and Club de Français de Columbia. She is married to neuroscientist and renowned laughter expert Robert R. Provine.
Philip J. Press, Treasurer
Philip Press attended his first Candlelight Concert at the Glenelg Country Day School in 1972. He subsequently became a founder of Candlelight Concert Society, which was incorporated in 1975, and served as its first treasurer from 1975 to 1991 and then as President in 2002 and from 2013 through 2017. He was also treasurer of the Howard County Arts Council from 1979 to 1981, after it transitioned from the Howard County Commission on the Arts. Phil is proud to have contributed to the growth and success of Candlelight Concert Society and to cultural enrichment in Howard County.
Phil obtained his BS and MS degrees in Chemical Engineering from Columbia University. He then completed advanced coursework in statistics and operations research before joining W. R. Grace and Company. At Grace, he was head of the Applied Mathematics department, which provided internal consulting services in statistical analysis and mathematical modeling to the company’s varied businesses. After a 30-year career, Phil retired from W. R. Grace in 1997 and started Philip Press, Inc., a statistical consulting company. His clients have included major companies in the chemical, pharmaceutical and quick service restaurant sectors. He is also President of Experimentation By Design, LLC, a software company that develops and markets software for design of experiments. Phil is married to Linda Press, a well-known Howard County visual artist.
Elmina Hilsenrath, Secretary
Mina Hilsenrath is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts with a master of landscape architecture degree. She retired in 2010 from working with the Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning, where she served as Chief of the Land Development Division, then Environmental and Community Planning Division, and finally as Chief of the Resource Conservation Division. Mina taught in the landscape architecture programs at the University of Maryland, College Park and at Morgan State University in Baltimore. She also spent several years working in private practice. She was active as a member and officer in several professional associations, including the American Society of Landscape Architects, Landscape Architecture Foundation, Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board, The Maryland Board of Examiners of Landscape Architecture and the Maryland Department of General Services Architectural Review Board.
Mina joined the Candlelight Concert Society Board of Directors in January, 2017 and serves as Board Secretary. She has been a member of the Howard County Conservancy Board of Trustees since 2010, including five years as Board Secretary. At the Conservancy, Mina is a master naturalist leading school field trips and has been a member of numerous committees including the Master Plan, Strategic Plan Update and Building Expansion Committees. Mina also volunteers for the Grassroots, Inc. She travels often, and especially enjoys spending time back in New England, where she grew up. For outdoor activities, she likes walking, hiking and swimming. An avid reader, Mina belongs to two local book clubs. Mina is married to Ernest Hilsenrath, a retired NASA physicist who specializes in earth sciences and is active in Howard County climate change initiatives. She has lived in southern Howard County for 28 years. She has three stepchildren and is lucky that her four grandchildren all live in the area.
A lifelong supporter of the Arts, Jill is thrilled to have joined the Candlelight Board of Directors. Jill studied violin and voice for many years and thoroughly enjoyed singing with the Baltimore Symphony Chorus. Fifteen years ago, she helped found the very successful Jazz at the Lake Series which brings prominent Jazz Artists to the James Rouse Theater annually. Funds raised support Wilde Lake High’s Music Program. Jill continues to be involved with that endeavor.
Jill has lived in Columbia for over 35 years with her husband, Bernard Brown, a corporate attorney. They have raised three children, all of whom are professional performing artists. When not attending local concerts and theater, Jill and Bernard are traveling to see their children perform in national and international venues. Jill holds a B.A. from Clark University and a Master’s in Public Health from Yale University. After working in the Healthcare Industry, Jill now works as a Residential Realtor. She is a healthcare advocate and volunteer in the community. Jill enjoys traveling, reading, gardening, walking and of course spending time with her family!
Denise O. Love
Denise Love’s professional life has spanned the years from pre-school to geriatrics. After graduating from the University of Iowa she came to Baltimore for an internship with the Baltimore City Bureau of Recreation. Following that year she worked for 27 years with pre-school children in numerous institutions including Dundalk Community College, the Kennedy Krieger Institute, the Notre Dame University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.
While at Bayview Medical Center Denise became interested in the field of geriatrics and went on to earn a degree in The Studies of Aging. Using this expertise she took a position as program coordinator and later as marketing assistant/move coordinator for the residents at Vantage House Senior Living Community in Columbia.
The only music training that Denise has ever received goes back to a Music Appreciation Class her freshman year in college. Years later upon the opening of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Denise found time to regularly attend concerts featuring such well-known artists as Joshua Bell, Itzak Perlman, Jean-Rampal Rampal, Andres Segovia, and Isaac Stern. After David Zinman became Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra she stopped her long trips to Washington and travelled just down the road to the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore.
Two weeks prior to her retirement from Vantage House Denise was approached by Bonnie Hoff, then Executive Director of CCS and Philip Press, President of the CCS Board of Directors who asked if she was interested in joining the Board of Directors. Since that time Denise has served as Secretary of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Outreach Committee in addition to performing various other volunteer activities.
Gerard Perseghin is a graduate of Loyola University Maryland. He served in the US Army during the Vietnam war. He is a retired journalist. His career began with the Baltimore Sun; after military service he worked for the Catholic press in Baltimore and Washington. He is known for his special interest stories, investigative reporting, and reviews of theater in Baltimore and Washington. In 2006 he was awarded a Knighthood in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre. Jerry and his wife have attended Candlelight Concerts for the last 30 years.
Charles E. Thomas
“Chuck” Thomas is a graduate of the University of Louisville, School of Business with a major in Marketing. He spent most of his working life as a civilian in the Department of the Army. His duty assignments were all stateside in Toledo, Cincinnati, New York City and Washington, DC.
His assignments took him all over the United States and to Europe, the Far East and Panama. He moved to Columbia, Maryland in 1971 when he was appointed as the Civilian Personnel Director of Walter Reed Army Medical Center. In 1973, he transferred to the Pentagon. After 33 years of Federal service, he retired from the position, Chief, Labor and Employee Relations, Directorate of Civilian Personnel, Headquarters, Department of the Army.
Chuck joined the Candlelight Concert Society, Board of Directors, over 40 years ago. He served as President of the Board from 1991 to 2001. After he stepped down as President, he was honored by being appointed Director Ex Officio. Chuck has been involved in a number of volunteer activities over the years. He volunteered as a driver for Neighbor Ride for over seven years. He has held leadership positions at the local and state level for the National Association of Active and Retired Federal Employees. He currently serves on their State Legislative Committee as well as the same committee for United Seniors of Maryland. When not volunteering, he is frequently playing tennis, his favorite pastime.
Chuck has been married to Virginia M. Thomas for over 50 years. She served on the Howard County Council for 8 years and in the Maryland General Assembly for 12 years. They have two children and two grandchildren and travel to Minnesota and California frequently to visit them
Bill & Sally Ryder
Bill was raised as a Navy brat in the Southern Tradition. Sally was raised as a New Hampshire farmer's daughter. Bill is an engineer geek from MIT. Sally graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in English Literature. Bill moved from base to base in the US. Sally rarely left the farm and didn't get as far as Maryland until after college. When they met in 1972 Bill was interested in bluegrass while Sally liked Shostakovich! Despite all this, love for music became one of their common threads and they embraced the Suzuki method for eight years of violin lessons for their two children. The Suzuki experience further expanded and deepened the entire family's appreciation of music.
Official Columbia residents in 1974, they now inhabit the "pre-Columbian" settlement of Allview Estates. Bill repairs their tandem bicycle while Sally coaxes flowers and vegetables from Maryland's soil. Both enjoy spending time with their granddaughters, riding their tandem, and traveling to visit relatives and friends or not-too-distant lands. They are grateful to be serving the Candlelight Concert Society as Volunteer Coordinators and look forward to seeing you at all the upcoming concerts!
Gerald Von Mayer
Gerald is a graduate of the University of Maryland with a master’s degree in Geography. In 1958, after college, he worked in that summer as part of a duo to develop a land use map of Howard County. In the early years of the Howard County Planning and Zoning Office (later known as the Department of Planning and Zoning) Gerald worked as a geographer and later was head of the Comprehensive division which involved developing General Plans, zoning regulations, initiating a Historical Sites compendium, and review elements of the New Town of Columbia approval process. Later during his tenure in the Department Planning and Zoning, Gerald worked on grants for housing, transportation and historical trust. After Gerald’s retirement from Howard County government in 2001, he served as a tour guide of Baltimore’s Mt. Vernon historical area.
Gerald has been on Candlelight’s Board of Directors for over 15 years and served in various functions with the latest one being Treasurer.
Gerald once played violin, but now loves concerts, opera, museums, travel and is avid photographer. Gerald’s is married to Françoise von Mayer who enjoyed teaching French for 25 years at the Garrison Forest School in Baltimore County. They have lived in Howard County since 1969 and have a daughter living in Philadelphia, PA with her two sons.
Winner and finalist in competitions including the Gillet International Bassoon Competition and the ARD International Music Competition in Munich, Bryan has performed as soloist with the Baltimore Symphony and the National Symphony Orchestra. The Washington Post writes that his playing ‘dances with a lightness and grace uncommon for his instrument,’ and the Baltimore Sun has praised his ‘particularly beautiful playing, technical agility and understated elegance.’ Bryan tours the US and internationally as bassoonist for the Poulenc Trio. Bryan serves as the principal bassoonist of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra and is a former member of the IRIS Orchestra in Memphis.
As a musical collaborator and chamber musician, Bryan has toured and performed with violinist Hilary Hahn, clarinetists Anthony McGill and David Shifrin, soprano Hyunah Yu, Guggenheim- winning poet Lia Purpura, and appeared with legendary jazz-leader Cab Calloway in his final performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington. Bryan has premiered new works written for him by composers Octavio Vazquez, Steven Gerber, Thomas Benjamin and David Fetter, in addition to more than 25 new works he co-commissioned and premiered with the Poulenc Trio.
Bryan has served on the faculties at Morgan State University and Washington Adventist University. He has been invited as featured lecturer and given masterclasses and workshops at NYU, Princeton, Tulane, Loyola University, Ohio State University, Rutgers, Brigham Young University, University of Texas, University of Arizona, University of Georgia, University of Kentucky, San Francisco State University, Regents University, MD Institute College of Art (MICA), and Towson University. He is a recipient of the Yale Alumni Ventures Grant and the UNCF Award for Excellence.
In addition to his musical activities, Bryan is the former leader of Intertwine Systems, a healthcare and educational software company that he founded. At Intertwine, Bryan was featured on the front page of the Baltimore Business Journal as a mobile software entrepreneur to watch. As a technologist, Bryan worked with the State of Maryland in collaboration with the University of Maryland and the Alvin Toffler Institute to develop iPad-based software for cardiologists, and with the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in conjunction with the government of Trinidad and Tobago to develop new research tools for endocrinologists. Bryan is a former partner chief technology advisor to SailTime, the world’s largest fractional sailing company, chief technologist at JobJybe, an Austin-based startup focused on business communications, and currently leads strategic healthcare-focused software projects for Asymmetrik Ltd. Bryan is a a frequent guest on Maryland's WBJC-FM radio show, Face the Music.