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WSO Musicians Tell Their Stories

Happy New Year! We have 3 more fantastic concerts in our current season, and we're excited to share this glorious music with you. As WSO musicians, we believe that live music brings all people together!

Being a nosy sort, I am always interested in learning why people do the things that they do. So I decided to ask our fabulous WSO musicians why they joined the orchestra, do they have a favorite piece, do they like to practice, do they enjoy rehearsals and performing. Here are some answers from a few of our wonderful orchestra members:

Brandon Sciarra, principal trombone

I joined the WSO because I have a passion for performing orchestral repertoire and the Wellesley Symphony Orchestra is a high quality ensemble which I am proud to be a part of.

This is my second season with WSO. My favorite piece is Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony and I was excited to be a part of those rehearsals last season. Unfortunately, I got Covid the week of the concert and could not play the concert. My favorite piece from this season was Dvorak's New World Symphony!

I enjoy practicing trombone and play better each time I do. I was always quite competitive when it comes to music and knew that if I wasn't practicing to improve, my competition was. With two young children at home I don't practice as much as I used to, but now play trombone mainly for my own enjoyment.

I enjoy the WSO rehearsals because playing music is fun!

And, I enjoy performing! I have been playing trombone for 30 years and performing in concerts has long been a part of my life. Performing in concerts is simply fun and that is why I continue to do it!

Bobby Kipp, principal oboe

I joined the WSO around 2000, after subbing a couple of times. I was thrilled to be invited to join this wonderful orchestra. Playing orchestral music in a fine ensemble like the WSO is not only musically satisfying but has led to some amazing friendships. It means a lot to have a regular group of like-minded people who play great music for the love of it! I like playing classics like Brahms, Beethoven, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky. AND I like playing lesser-known/less-played composers and pieces, including new compositions.

I don’t always love playing the oboe. It can be a terrible bedfellow at times. All that fussing with reeds, the temperamental instrument, and physical demands. But when it’s not the bad stuff, it’s the second best (second to my husband of 37 years) friend I have.

Playing the oboe – when practicing, rehearsing with others and playing concerts – keeps me grounded and brings a sense of joy. I’m not sure why, but it does.

I like practicing – sometimes working on things for orchestra or other groups, but other times just playing music I like or want to learn. I call that practicing too, but it’s really just playing. I think I like playing music more than I like listening to it!

I really like orchestra rehearsals. I love to see/hear the orchestra learn a piece, take it apart and put it back together to make it sound better than when we started. And Mark does all of that so well, trusting us as musicians while simultaneously giving us creative direction, teaching us about the specific music and music in general. It’s really fun to learn and improve and eat (hear) the fruits of our collective labors.

I do like performing. It’s such a rewarding end to a period of time spent learning and improving. And I like sharing all that with friends and family, who are so supportive by coming to concerts. That said, I also enjoy playing music with others (mostly in chamber groups like wind quintets) where the joy comes from just playing through music together (sometimes pieces we work hard to learn together) without the added “stress” of a concert. I don’t think I’d be musically complete without both.

Elaine Wu, second violin

I joined the WSO when I moved to the Boston area. Dianne Mahany (former principal clarinet) was working with Barry's (my husband's) stepfather and she recruited me to come specifically to the WSO, telling me they were the best community orchestra in this area and that Max Hobart was an amazing musician and great to work with. I had to hurry and join, as I wanted to play Beethoven's 9th with the orchestra (in 2004). It's been 18 years!

Our daughter Mia began coming to hear us rehearse almost weekly since she was 3 weeks old. She stopped coming to rehearsals only due to the Covid pandemic. Now she's a busy junior in high school and comes to all my concerts.

I love playing with friends, in the middle of the sound, immersed in the music we create in the orchestra.

I'm still surprised after all these years that when I practice, I actually get better and am able to accomplish hard passages that I think are impossible!

Liz Turi, second violin

I play my grandfather's violin. He played it through high school and stopped playing when he suffered an injury in WWII that removed his left pinky.

When he heard that I had started learning violin not long after my eldest child was born, he lit up like a Christmas tree and hurried off, returning with his violin to show it to me. It had been stored under his bed for years. (You have to imagine this - my grandfather had a kind of gruff exterior with a voice like James Earl Jones. He was a farmer and an engineer, and he didn't ever rush, but moved deliberately (but boy did he love his grandkids and great grandkids and he had the best hugs). So to see him act like a kid was amazing in and of itself and I STILL tear up at the memory).

It was a beautiful red varnished violin, that had clearly been sitting unplayed for years. Its strings were slack and some were missing. The bow was a disaster. Its case was an old leather bound case barely held together and creaking. But Grandpa was so proud to show it to me. He'd always been supportive of me in my scientific efforts - and always encouraged me to play music (I played flute growing up) - but now we shared something specific that no one else in the family shared, and he was visibly excited about this (as was I!). When he passed away a few years later, I shared that there was literally only one thing that I actually wanted to the point of explicitly asking for it, and that was his violin. (Now my house is happily filled with memories from his farm).

It would be a few more years again until the violin came to me, at which point I took it to Jennifer Becker (in the Twin Cities where I lived at the time) to see if it could be restored to playing condition. It was a baroque style violin, built in 1841 in Ashburnham, MA, by Samuel Brooks. Jennifer told me that it was built oddly. It had Italian and German features from the time period, and there were braces along the sides holding the top and bottom to the sides. It has a square sound peg. (I would later learn from a now-defunct museum that featured Pioneer Valley violins that Samuel Brooks was a clockmaker who dabbled in violins but that "none of his surviving violins are at all playable".) She replaced the neck, tailpiece, chin guard, and fingerboard, keeping the original scroll. We also left the little bit of tape that has Grandpa's name on it - a remnant from when he played in high school. I chose to go this route so I could play it in modern orchestras rather than restoring it to its baroque state. Now I figure that the violin's clockmaker/tinkerer maker would approve.

Lin Yu, second violin

I joined the WSO for the love of classical music, and the pleasure of making beautiful music with like-minded folks. And, the quality/level of WSO is quite high, I mean, the good musicianship of all members, not the least the conductor(s). It is much more enjoyable to play with WSO. Besides, I have learnt much while being with WSO. I joined in January 2017. Wow, 7 calendar years already flying by ... much water under the bridge, and continuing to flow . . . . I love to practice. However, often I cannot find enough time. I enjoy rehearsals because I like playing music with like-minded and well-trained musicians, as well as being among very friendly people. Performing is the harvest time to enjoy the fruit of our time-spent, labor and effort. Usually, at performance, we do our best in beautiful music making, playing without interruption and immersing ourselves in endlessly sublime of classical music.

As for me, I too love playing with the WSO, enjoy practicing and rehearsing, and get excited about performing and sharing all that we have learned about the music with you. This is my 48th season with the WSO, and I never get tired of working on this glorious music with my fellow musicians. We hope that you will join us at our concerts in experiencing our musical journey - after all, music is the universal language!

Carol Davidson


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