Alexandria Symphony executive director dies

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By James Cullum (Courtesy photo)

Paul Frank, the executive director of the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, died after a short bout with pancreatic cancer on March 13 at the age of 76. He was an arts lover, community volunteer, musician and family man.

Frank’s son, Mark Frank, wrote on Facebook that his father is at peace.

“Dad is in a better place now and is no longer hurting,” he wrote. “I am fortunate to have a lifetime of memories. Music will continue to be a source of comfort, and I know Dad will be with me whenever I put my hands to the piano. I love you Dad!”

The symphony hired Frank in September, and he spent less than four months at his post before he was diagnosed with cancer. He was previously the interim executive director of the McLean Symphony Orchestra.

“He was working on day one. That’s what the board really liked about him,” said Ronal Butler, president of the ASO board of trustees. “He was doing such a great job, and [his death] was so sudden. It caught us by surprise.”

Butler said Frank was heavily involved in the two-year search for the symphony’s new music director. He said Frank attended a board meeting a month ago, but felt sick and later checked himself into the hospital. He was diagnosed shortly thereafter and left work for good.

“He really knew Alexandria and the arts,” Butler said. “We needed a pianist for our last concert and we scratched around for a good player, and he just picked up his phone and called pianist Thomas Pandolphi on his cell phone and booked him on the spot. We thought that was fantastic.”

Frank was born on July 4, 1940 in D.C. and graduated from Calvin Coolidge High School and The George Washington University. He was a classically trained pianist and performed at the Kennedy Center and D.C.’s Jewish Community Center.

As a businessman, his credits include stints as head of human resources for Boeing, a vice president of M&T Bank and 1st Service Bank and as president of Paul A. Frank Associates, Inc.

Frank, who lived in Alexandria, was also the former executive director and chief executive officer of the Collingwood Library and Museum, and he was a longtime member of the Alexandria, McLean, Fairfax County, Mount Vernon-Lee chambers of commerce and the Rotary clubs of McLean and Alexandria.

Additionally, he was the executive director for the Friends of the Torpedo Factory Art Center for six years, and received Alexandria’s “Harmony” award and Fairfax County’s “Blue Diamond Award” for corporate citizenship and furthering the arts. Frank also hired Jennifer Seamster at the McLean Symphony.

“He loved music, and he was a pretty accomplished piano player,” Seamster said. “He was kind, he could be funny and he was very verbose. He could emcee a lot of our galas. He was just a good people person. He knew everybody and he wasn’t afraid to call them.”

The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra will observe moments of silence in Frank’s memory at each of its performances in April. This Sunday, the McLean

Orchestra will dedicate its Mozart concert to Frank’s memory at Falls Church Episcopal Church at 8 p.m.

Frank is survived by his wife Barbie Poole Frank, children Denise Frank-Conneen, Mark Frank and Todd Levinson Frank, Sarah Wincovich, Carter Poole and nine grandchildren. His memorial service was held on March 20 at Everly-Wheatley

Funeral Home, and the family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in his name to the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra or the McLean Orchestra.

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