Conducting a Masterpiece
Amplifying the beauty of music
Picture a little girl in rural Pope, Miss., population 200, mid-20th century, curled up listening intently to the radio. She has dark, dark hair, big blue eyes and pale white skin. She looks remarkably like a little Scarlett O’Hara. She is listening to a live symphony orchestra broadcast, transported by the music and yearning to be in the audience so that she might hear it more clearly. Her eyes sparkle with every note, as she makes up her mind that one day she will be in the audience – and that she will do all she can to make sure others have the opportunity to do the same.
Now, jump forward to today, that same little girl is in Houston making her dreams come true, a thousand fold. Her wide blue eyes are still sparkling with every note, as she regularly attends the Houston Symphony’s live performances at Jones Hall. She has traveled the world listening to beautiful music, and she is even more determined than ever to make sure that others have the opportunity to hear it, as well.
On April 7, that little girl, Betty Tutor, will welcome guests to The Old World Symphony Ball. It is the largest fundraiser of the year for the Houston Symphony, with proceeds going for the Education and Outreach Programs. Those are the programs that help people discover the life-altering benefits of symphonic music. Her co-chairs are husband, Jess, and Diane and Harry Gendel. Jess Tutor is president-elect of the Houston Symphony Society, the governing board of the symphony.
This will be Betty’s second time chairing the Symphony Ball. Chairing such a huge event is an almost unbelievable undertaking. One has to have the skills of a CEO and the charm of Scarlett at her best. Betty has both.
No resounding trumpets heralded the arrival of newlyweds Betty and Jess Tutor that warm June Sunday in 1968 when they arrived in Houston. If members and supporters of the Houston Symphony had a crystal ball then, the young couple would have had a flock of helpers when their car and U-Haul broke down. As it was, they knew no one. Fortunately, there was an apartment complex across the street, and they had just enough money to rent an efficiency.
Jess had just received his degree in accounting from the University of Mississippi and had a job lined up with Arthur Andersen. Betty had just obtained her Masters in Education with a specialty in reading. Jess was off to work the very next morning. Betty soon found a teaching job at Chimney Rock Hall.
Betty had to get over her fear of freeways and getting lost quickly. Houston is a whole lot bigger than Pope. There, directions consisted of, “At Mrs. Pettigrew’s house at the top of the hill, take a left.”
Betty and Jess have raised two accomplished children, Sherida and Brooks. They are now grandparents, twice over. Sitting in her lovely Tanglewood-area living room, the tears fell and her smile beamed as Betty discussed the beauty of parenthood and grandparenthood.
“It’s the best!” she exclaims. “It helps you know that time is short. It gives you a better perspective on life, and it teaches you all over again how important it is to be a happy person.”
Betty is a happy person. She made her goal in life “being of service to God, family and friends;” and she has accomplished that goal. Betty has worked tirelessly as a volunteer, raising money for many worthy causes, including Houston Grand Opera, Chrons and Colitis, Diabetes, the Women’s Fund, Wellsprings and Ole Miss, just to name a few. Betty is fortunate in that she can honestly say, “I am able to look at my life and feel at peace.”