The Amherst Chamber Ensembles, Inc., or ACE, is an outgrowth of community outreach performances that Dorothy(Dolly) Gaus, violinist, and Ernest Rahklin, pianist and composer, gave at various venues, including the Jewish Community Center, senior residences and nursing homes.
In 1992, Dolly went to a concert of the UB Symphony Orchestra at the University at Buffalo where she met Martha Welte, a violinist who was playing in the concert. Martha soon joined Dolly and Ernest in their performances. They decided it would be fun to have a small orchestra, so they invited some of their string-playing friends to play music, with Ernest as their conductor.
ACE was originally called The Rahklin Ensemble. Roberta Rogers, flutist, joined the group. Rehearsals and performances were held at Calvary Lutheran Church on Bailey Avenue, where Roberta was music director. The first concert there was in April, 1993.
In 1994, Ernest left the area and Jon Noworyta, an young music educator, became the next music director.
ACE was incorporated in 1995. In March, 1998, ACE moved to Christ United Methodist Church, where they played concerts until June, 2009. Later that fall, ACE relocated to North Presbyterian Church in Williamsville.
In 1999, Jon Noworyta (class of 1990, NorthTonawanda City Schools) relocated to Illinois, to become band director of Wheaton North High School. Dolly Gaus moved to Williamsburg VA in 2000. In 1999, ACE chose another music educator, Dennis Lell, as its principal conductor.
When Dennis retired in 2010, ACE ran another conductor search. In 2011, Dr. Thomas Witakowski, faculty at Buffalo State College, was selected as ACE Principal Conductor and Music Director.
Mrs. Welte leads ACE as its General Manager. The ACE String Quartet now continues the tradition of playing concerts in community centers.
ACE now has a personnel roster of several hundred contributing musicians of all ages and playing levels who continue the original mission of friends making music together.
ACE includes the plural word “Ensembles” in its name because its ten concert season includes solo performances, chamber music workshops and recitals, and wind ensemble, string orchestra and chamber orchestra programs.
Board of Directors
ACE board members are selected from interested members of the music community. The current board members are:
Martha Welte - General Manager/String personnel
David Clem - Chair and Reception
Judith Hirsch - Vice Chair
Pat Chiodo - Treasurer
Yvonne Verplanke - Secretary/Publicity/Outreach
Phyllis Galie - Library Chair
Thomas Mudd - Wind Personnel
August Grillo - Stage Manager
Sherrie Bernat - Reception
Roy Cay - Finance Chair
Stephan Heider - Recordings