Q: How long have you been involved with AFCM?
Dagmar Cushing: I can’t even remember for sure but I think I have been on the board for about 26 years. I started attending the concerts when I first came to the U of A in 1969, when they were being held at Crowder Hall.
Q: What is your current role?
DC: I have had numerous roles, but right now I am primarily the “piano queen” which is a glamorous title for being in charge of anything relating to pianos (and taking the blame if anything goes wrong). I am also on the Now Music committee— formerly Piano and Friends—always scouting for talented young performers who are at the beginning of very promising careers. It is amazing how many highly talented young musicians there are all over the world! During the Festival we usually host a musician at home, which is so much fun.
Q: What role does music play in your life?
DC: There was always classical music when I was growing up. My parents played the piano and were avid music lovers. The radio or record player was always on and I got to attend many wonderful concerts through school and my family. Growing up in Germany, this was considered a vital part of public education.
Q: Did you play an instrument or perform as a child?
DC: I started playing the piano, and later the clarinet, both of which I still play, as an amateur. I have played in lay orchestras and chamber music groups and even went to “adult band camp” last year (for the first time in my life). Naturally, music was also a big part of raising my daughters.
Q: How did you first become interested in the chamber music form?
DC: Playing it started in high school, for me. We had great school programs and I continued in college and after.
Q: What other kinds of music do you enjoy?
DC: I love all kinds of music, especially the blues and gospel, world music, etc.
Q: What do you do when you’re not working on AFCM?
DC: I have been a social worker in various settings. My longest stint was as a hospital social worker at UMC (now Banner), mostly in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I loved my job until retirement last year. I also love retirement, which has allowed me to travel extensively, visit with my children more often, spend time with the grandkids, and do volunteer work for environmental and charitable causes.
Q: Tell us about your other interests.
DC: There are definitely too many: travel, lots of outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, skiing, mushrooming (I am still alive!), music, pottery, spending time with my doggie, and reading, to name a few. Unfortunately, my bucket list is getting longer as I age. It should be the other way around!
Q: What’s the best part of an AFCM concert?
DC: They are such superbly high-level performances, and there is a great variety of programming. It is the best anti-depressant I can imagine. Also, our audience is so appreciative and supportive.
Q: What’s a little known fact about ACFM?
DC: That’s a hard one. As far as I know, no major family crises have resulted from such intense volunteer work done by our board. That’s an accomplishment in my book and must have something to do with the uplifting nature of music.