Marianne Liberatore, president of Music for Youth

Marianne van Hoorn Liberatore passed away peacefully in her Weston home on Friday, June 1, 2012, after a period of declining health.

She leaves behind two sons, Joe Jewett of Northampton, Massachusetts and Willem Jewett of Ripton, Vermont, and their families: Joe’s wife Kira, foster daughter Sokah, daughter Aislyn, and son Rainier; and Will’s wife Jean and their daughters Anneke and Abigail, as well as cousins Magteld, Cordula, Reinier, and Nico in Holland.

She also leaves a niece, Carolyn Lester of Andover, CT, and several stepchildren: George, Virginia, Nick, Elliott, and Mark. She was predeceased by her husband of thirty-eight years, Nicholas Liberatore.

Marianne was born September 30, 1928, in Wilmington, Delaware, the daughter of Helen Renner and Albert Willem Westpalm van Hoorn. Helen, of Sandusky OH, had an enduring career as an innovative secondary educator. Albert, born in Java, Indonesia, designed classic motor yachts of many sizes.

Marianne spent her childhood in Wilmington and Annapolis, where she was an avid sailor.

A precocious student, she graduated high school at 16 and from Oberlin College at age 20 with a double major in History and Art History. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

After college Marianne worked in Manhattan as a buyer for Macy’s and a lecturer in retailing at the Tobe-Coburn School. She married Joseph Jewett in 1957 and the couple, both sailors, settled near the water in Larchmont, NY. They relocated to Westport in 1965 with their two young sons, concurrently building a rustic A-frame ski retreat in Waitsfield, VT.

In Westport Marianne promoted musical events in the local school system as Chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee of the Westport PTA, then became involved with the well-established South Shore Music Club in 1967. She leveraged this experience to mount a show of “Westport Artists of the Past” to commemorate the American Bicentennial at the Westport Public Library.

After Joe’s untimely death in 1972, Marianne worked in marketing and publicity for Famous Schools, Sandak, Inc, and Garden Way Associates. She married Nicholas Liberatore in 1973 and relocated with him to San Francisco where Marianne again worked for Macy’s while starting her own business, Shop Work, Inc.

The couple spent a few years sailing and living in Orr’s Island, Maine, in a house she designed. Realizing she missed the cultural activity of Westport and its proximity to New York City even more than she was attracted to the wild beauty of Maine’s seacoast, she returned to Weston in 1993.

It was then that Marianne began an amazing nineteen years of service promoting classical music and humanitarian causes in Fairfield County.

Her leadership qualities, business acumen, and love of music combined to make her a perfect candidate to be named program director and then, in 1994, president of South Shore Music, Inc. Marianne developed this beloved local chamber music program into a first-class, internationally renowned concert series; her efforts led to a resurgence in the program’s popularity to the point where it became a well-known and desired stop on concert tours for classical artists of every kind.

One of her first accomplishments as president of South Shore Music was her charitable outreach effort in Sarajevo in the mid-’90’s. Moved by the story of a Bosnian cellist who played often in public places during the siege of Sarajevo, she began a campaign to rebuild the Sarajevo Philharmonic. She raised money to buy instruments and to fund the efforts of then-local luthier Phillip Injeian to travel overseas in order to repair the group’s many damaged instruments, including one cello with a bullet hole, providing them the means to continue performing under dire straits.

In addition to her work in Sarajevo, Marianne brought numerous local music-lovers with her on a series of Musical Odyssey trips, traveling the world each summer to visit culturally rich locations and sample recitals, concerts, and operas.

In 1995, Marianne established the now well-known Free Young Persons’ Concert Series at the Pequot Library. When Marianne resigned as president of South Shore in 2002, she re-made the Free Young Persons’ Concerts as a separate entity — Music for Youth, Inc.

After seventeen seasons this is still the most successful concert series for young people in the tri-state area. In addition, Music for Youth has been sponsoring musicians to work in residency with deserving students in area schools since 1995, focusing particularly in the last eight years on underserved young people in the Bridgeport school system.

Lastly, Marianne and Music for Youth established an annual college scholarship for graduates of the Fairfield public schools who continue their musical studies beyond high school. All of these programs begun under Marianne’s leadership will continue into the future, a lasting tribute to her years of hard work and dedication to the arts in Fairfield County.

Throughout the years she has been lauded for her selfless work in music, receiving, among other accolades, the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Memorial Outstanding Women of Connecticut Award in 2003 and the Westport Arts Advisory Council Champion of the Arts Award in 2010.

Marianne will be sorely missed and fondly remembered by all the people whose lives she touched. A concert of remembrance will be held in her honor on June 23 (time and location to follow). Charitable donations may be made in her name to Music for Youth, Inc., P.O. Box 403, Westport, CT 06880.

—By The Family

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