Granite Bay couple spreads their love of concert series

Margy and Bill Findlay have attended Sacramento concert series since 1997
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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More than half a century ago, Margy and Bill Findlay enrolled in the same paleontology class. They studied fossils together as Saturday morning laboratory partners. This was at Stanford University and they didn’t have the same last name back then. The 1950s was a man’s world and Margy was one of only two women in this particular class. Bill recently joked that the professor said he passed the class only because Margy pulled him through. He majored in geology and she majored in biology. Eventually, the lab partners became life partners and celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary earlier this month. The Granite Bay residents, both 75 years old, have shared a love of music through the years, largely thanks to Margy’s influence. “Otherwise, I’d still be playing Frank Sinatra and love ballads,” Bill Findlay said. Instead, a world of classical violinists, orchestras, pianists, choruses and quartets opened up for him. The couple volunteers as board members for the Sacramento Community Concert Association, a nonprofit organization and one of the closest concert groups to this area. The Folsom Lake Community Concert Association also exists nearby. The Sacramento organization formed in 1953 and the Findlays began attending the concert series in 1997. They were immediately hooked. “We were so impressed by it, partly because it’s affordable for really good music,” Margy Findlay said. The program includes five concerts for the 2010-11 season, which begins Sept. 24 at the Sacramento Community Center Theatre downtown. With a concert association, patrons typically purchase tickets as a package in advance of the season — an option that took off in 1927 as a way of securing high-quality entertainment at a reasonable price. Last year, however, the Sacramento organization started selling single tickets to increase attendance. This association charges $90 for adults for a season and $40 for students. There are no reserved seats. Through the decades, the series has featured orchestras from around the world, such as London, Berlin and Iceland. Ballet companies and dance troupes from Cuba, Ukraine, Hungary and other foreign places have also performed. “We favor the classical music,” Margy Findlay said. “I always look for the major symphonies, usually from different countries.” This year, the Opole Philharmonic of Poland will perform. The Findlays aren’t fans of mariachi music or tango dances, but “that tends to go over well with the audience,” Margy said. They liked the Yale Whiffenpoofs, a collegiate a capella group that performed four years ago. They also enjoyed the Gene Krupa Orchestra with the Four Freshman for a night of jazz and big band music. And the Findlays loved when Russian classical pianist Olga Kern came to town. “What you won’t find are jugglers or Chinese acrobats,” Bill Findlay said. One year, American folk and pop music group the Kingston Trio performed. Bill and Margy Findlay actually attended college with founding member, the late-Dave Guard. He’d visit a friend in the freshman dormitory where Margy lived and she’d hear him play music in the lobby. Bill, a retired geology professor at American River College, and Margy, a retired school librarian, have three children, who all played instruments in high school. Their grandchildren are more into sports. The couple would like to see more young people interested in classical music and the concert series. “Mostly gray-haired people come (to the concerts),” Bill Findlay said. Originally from Stockton, Margy played cello from 5th grade until the birth of her third child in 1963. In high school, she performed in the Stockton Symphony for two years and played with an orchestra in Yosemite during the summers. She also played piano growing up. The couple lived in Foothill Farms in Sacramento County before moving to Granite Bay in 1979, back when strip malls didn’t exist there and the area still had rolling hills. They don’t like seeing the area become so commercialized. But one thing hasn’t changed in the last several years — the joy they take from the concert series. During the first season they attended, a man and woman on skies performed a ballet. “I thought, ‘This is going to be hysterical,’” Margy Findlay said. “(But) it was the most beautiful thing. I’ve never seen anything like it since. It was a memorable thing and we’ve gone ever since. It’s the best deal in town.” Sena Christian can be reached at ---------- The Sacramento Community Concert Association includes five concerts for its 2010-11 season, featuring The Lowe Family, Presidio Brass, Tango Buenos Aires, Angele Dubeau & La Pieta and Opole Philharmonic of Poland. For more information, visit