Philanthropy

Tammie Sandoval: Feeling in Tune with the Sarasota Orchestra

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By Steven J. Smith | PHOTO BY NANCY GUTH

Tammie Sandoval has been a music lover since the third grade, where she was asked to choose an instrument to learn for music class. “I was thinking flute, flute, flute,” she says, “but when my turn came, out of my mouth came ‘clarinet.’”

And from then on, she played clarinet in elementary school, middle school, and high school. Tammie grew so enthusiastic about music that she became drum major of her high school marching band. “Marching bands weren’t as big in our state [New York] as the Midwest, but in Westchester County? It’s what we did.” So most weekends, Tammie got on busses with her bandmates and travelled however many hours to go to competitions and perform where they could, including an event at Giants Stadium.

What, then, does a music-loving, drum major do as an undergrad at the University of Albany? Study English. “I always told people that I either wanted to be a lawyer or an English professor,” she admits. “The last thing I wanted? To be sitting around in a bank all day.” But after her English degree and a law degree from Barry University in Orlando, where did she end up working? A bank. And she loves it.
Working with trusts and estates for the past seven years at BMO Private Bank involves reading and writing and working with clients to figure out the best options on how to use all the wealth they’ve accumulated. Plus, it lets Tammie avoid the adversarial part of being a lawyer, like arguing in courtrooms. That’s simply not her style.

She explains that “when I came to Sarasota, I thought it was a place where I could establish myself and become a name in the community versus a woman who works for a bank.” With that goal in mind, she jumped on opportunities when they arose, such as joining the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County. Along with other young professionals, she was able to sit in with and learn about all kinds of arts and cultural organizations in town. It was a real artistic buffet that let her find where she fit best. While she enjoyed the ballet, the opera, and Asolo Rep, the Sarasota Orchestra is what drew her. “I immediately felt like I could become enmeshed in the culture there. It was the chance to serve on a board where I cared a lot about the decisions I was making.”
Tammie started her relationship with the Sarasota Orchestra at the same time Anu Tali was brought in. That willingness to change impressed her. “To survive in the orchestra world? You have to change, thrive, and figure out how to reach the next generations. I’m not sure they want to hear Beethoven’s 5th or Mozart’s ‘Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor.’ But they might want to hear jazz instead.” The Sarasota Orchestra’s lineup throughout the year has something for everyone—even Gen Yers and the iGeneration. Just witness the Billy Joel night from a few seasons back, or last year’s Frank Sinatra concert. That’s not your typical orchestra fare, and that’s exactly the point.

While Tammie isn’t in a position to give at the level that other donors give, her position at BMO allows her to steer much-needed corporate dollars in the direction of the Sarasota Orchestra. Although BMO is a national enterprise, they find it important to be a good corporate partner to the community. Tammie adds that “we believe you get out of the community what you put in and our partnership with the Sarasota Orchestra for the last 10+ years has been a testament to this philosophy.”

“Music is universal. It’s transcendent,” she says. “It brings together all types of people, from the uber-wealthy to the homeless you hear on Main Street playing the piano or strumming a guitar.” She’s especially pleased that the Sarasota Orchestra offered an outdoor concert at the Ed Smith baseball stadium this past May. “What’s more fun than coming out in shorts and sandals and enjoying music outdoors? Plus fireworks, too!”
These days, Tammie is a champion for the Sarasota Orchestra, telling people how the group can compete with big-name ensembles like the New York Philharmonic or the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. “You just have to come and listen to believe it. You won’t be disappointed! These are world-class musicians.”
While the only music Tammie plays these days is on her iPhone, thanks to her ongoing relationship with the Sarasota Orchestra as a friend, a patron, and Board Member, music is in her life—and her soul—forever. And she couldn’t be happier about it.

For more information about the Sarasota Orchestra, please visit www.sarasotaorchestra.org or call 941.953.3434.

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