A grateful community says thank-you to Judy Duda, the matriarch of Oviedo’s iconic concert series.
For a quarter of a century, Judy Duda’s name has been synonymous with the venerable St. Luke’s Concert Series in Oviedo. This spring, Judy took her final bow as executive director of the popular music series, which is presented for free as a gift to the community. Judy, who founded the series in 1993, received a lovely send-off at the last concert of the 25th anniversary season.
At the post-concert reception, an appreciative Judy addressed the performers, church staff, volunteers, and community members.
“My sincere thanks to God for letting me live to see and enjoy the harvest of my life’s work,” said the 82-year-old Oviedo resident.
Although Judy will no longer be the face and driving force of the music series, the concerts will continue and the bands will play on. The performances, which feature some of Central Florida’s finest musicians, are free and open to the public. The series, which is essentially a cultural outreach program, started small and now draws more than 9,000 enthusiastic attendees annually.
“I will be a forever fan of all our performing groups,” says Judy, a former organist and choir director at the church. “I have formed relationships and friendships with them that will last the rest of my life.”
Last year, Judy announced her intention to retire at the end of the 2018-19 season. Her duties have been so numerous – from scheduling concerts to fundraising to publicizing shows – that the workload will now be split between several people. That’s a testament to the dynamo that Judy is.
The music series is funded in part by the Seminole Cultural Arts Council (SCAC), a nonprofit organization that supports, sustains, and nurtures the arts in Seminole County.
“Dedication, drive, and desire to exceed expectations are at Judy’s core,” says Donna Bundy, SCAC’s executive director. “For Judy, the concert series has been a labor of love. On top of that, Judy is so warm and inviting. She really loves people.”
Conductors of the bands that perform as part of the series also sing Judy’s praises. Among them is Gareth Pritchard, musical director of the Brass Band of Central Florida, a perennial audience favorite.
“Judy’s enthusiasm was palpable, and you were left with no option but to be swept up and be part of it,” says Gareth, who lives in Altamonte Springs. “We have become friends outside of the concert series, and she has been nothing but wonderful with all my family.”
Other regular performers include the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, the UCF Symphony Orchestra, the Orlando Concert Band, and the Lutheran Cantata Choir. The series, which runs from September through April, features sacred, classical, and holiday music.
Chung Park, conductor of the UCF Symphony Orchestra, has been impressed with Judy’s determination to bring beautiful music and high-caliber performing groups to such a wide audience.
“Judy has tremendous fire, and she has affection,” Chung says. “She has a deep passion for music, but also for people.”
This has been a watershed year for Judy in other ways, as well. On May 4, she received an honorary degree from the University of Central Florida and was also tapped to deliver the commencement speech that day.
“Music is one of God’s greatest gifts,” Judy says. “We’ve been so blessed to keep the concert series alive for 25 years, and I’m confident the new team will take it into the future with a blast of fresh energy and exciting new ideas.”
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