MEET THE STAFF: Craig McNutt, RI Philharmonic Orchestra Musician

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Where did you grow up? Orleans, MA (AKA “Cape Cod”)

Favorite meal or restaurant? Any good shellfish and pasta recipe!

Coffee or Tea? Coffee – Decaf Americano more accurately.

What instrument do you play in the RI Philharmonic? Timpani.

What inspired you to take up that instrument and how old were you when you started? I started my musical studies on violin. But in the 7th grade, when I saw that there was only one timpanist in the orchestra, I was inspired.

What’s your favorite composition for that instrument? Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra – the subtle quality of the timpani within this work makes it challenging and fun.

How long have you been playing in the RI Philharmonic? Since 1992 – I don’t want to do the math….

What is the best performance you’ve ever heard? Summer 1985 – Bernstein conducting Copland Symphony #3 at Tanglewood.

What do you want people to know about the RI Philharmonic Orchestra? How much it means to both entertain and represent the state of Rhode Island through our performances.

How are you keeping yourself occupied while being at home all day? Taking care of the little things I never had time for, while gently stretching my musical boundaries…

You’re stuck on a desert island… what book, music/album/artist and movie do you want with you? Album – The Beatles: 1967-1970. Book – Alex Ross: The Rest is Noise. Movie – Either 2001: A Space Odyssey or This is Spinal Tap. Depends on the day!

MEET THE STAFF: Kevin Owen, RI Philharmonic Orchestra Musician

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Where did you grow up? Various places in NY, The process continues to this day.

Favorite meal or restaurant? I do love the scallops at Red Bridge Tavern in East Providence.

Coffee or Tea? Coffee, no more than ten cups a day.

What instrument do you play in the RI Philharmonic? French horn!

What inspired you to take up that instrument and how old were you when you started? I was forced by the middle school band director to play the horn or be cut from the band. No one else wanted to play it, so there was little competition. I was pretty bad at every other instrument I tried.

What’s your favorite composition for that instrument? We musicians have a joke about that. Our favorite piece is the one titled Tacet.

How long have you been playing in the RI Philharmonic? Somewhere around 32 years.

What is the best performance you’ve ever heard? It’s like asking what is your favorite breath? If the audience loves it, I consider any performance a success, no matter what or how well I played. Well…let’s say regardless of what we played.

What do you want people to know about the RI Philharmonic Orchestra? Four things Rhode Island has going for it, better than any city it’s size – Quahogs, Hot Weiners, Del’s and the RI Phil!

How are you keeping yourself occupied while being at home all day? I have a side business as an arranger/composer and a hobby of making my own French horns, so between them and cleaning the litter box more often than I usually do, it’s a pretty busy time.

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You’re stuck on a desert island… what book, music/album/artist and movie do you want with you? I’m afraid I never watch movies, and for books, I’d probably pick How To Survive On A Desert Island For Dummies. Please, no musicians. We’d argue.

MEET THE STAFF: Steve Lamb, RI Philharmonic Orchestra Musician

Where did you grow up? I grew up in Texas. I was born in Waco, grew up in Plano, and first cut my teeth as a professional musician in Houston.

Favorite Meal or Restaurant? I’m a huge fan of a couple places in Mystic, Connecticut (where we currently live). Sift Bake Shop has incredible pastries . . . the owner won the Food Network’s Best Baker in America in 2018. Grass and Bone is my favorite restaurant for Lunch and Dinner . . I haven’t had anything there that wasn’t fantastic.

Coffee or Tea? Coffee. Black. (Like Katheryn Janeway from Star Trek Voyager)

What instrument do you play in the RI Philharmonic? I’m paid to play the Tuba. In my opinion, it’s the coolest job description ever.

What inspired you to take up that instrument and how old were you when you started? In fifth grade, we had a band instrument trial one evening after school. My dad took me to it as my mom was out of town with work (this becomes important in a moment). I went around the band room . . . tried drums, bassoon, saxophone, eventually making my way over to the brass instruments. I tried the trumpet . . . couldn’t get a sound. French Horn? . . . even worse. Trombone? . . . a tad better. The tuba, though, was where I sounded the best, whatever that meant for an eleven year old with zero musical training. As the band was in need of tuba players, the director gave me a hard sell, and I signed up for it. When we got home, my dad called my mom, and she exclaimed, “You let him pick WHAT??!!” Thirty-some odd years later, that same instrument puts food on the table for her grand kids.

What is your favorite composition for that instrument? If I’m choosing solo works, my personal favorite is Paul Hindemith’s Sonata for Tuba and Piano. From a technical standpoint, it’s not overly difficult, however, there’s a musical depth to the composition that is challenging to present and fun to perform. If I’m choosing orchestral works, I love the way Sergei Prokofiev writes for the tuba and feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to perform a couple of his works in my short tenure with the orchestra.

How long have you been playing in the RI Philharmonic? Not too long. I’ve been a member of the orchestra since January, 2017.

What is the best performance you’ve ever heard? In my opinion, this is the hardest question to answer. From a live performance, I distinctly remember witnessing an incredible performance at Carnegie Hall of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony with Pierre Boulez conducting the London Symphony Orchestra. A legendary orchestra with a legendary conductor performing a monumental work. From a recording standpoint, I don’t know if I can answer it. On almost a weekly basis, I’m inspired and astounded by recordings that I’m introduced to. A couple of my current guilty pleasures are Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall and the recordings from the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. I love the way those groups sound.

What do you want people to know about the RI Philharmonic Orchestra? My first season with the RI Philharmonic happened to coincide with the final season of Larry Rachleff as our Music Director. He made a comment that the RI Philharmonic, while part time, performs at the same quality as many full time orchestras. Larry’s comment about the quality is spot on. This orchestra consistently performs at a high level, and I feel extremely fortunate and humbled to have the opportunity to share the stage with the fantastic musicians in this orchestra.

How are you keeping yourself occupied while being at home all day? My wife and I have four kids, with the youngest just born in early April. Our two oldest are school-aged, so we are busy administrating and encouraging them to do their schooling-from-home work, while feeding and keeping the other two alive during the baby and toddler stages.

I’m still working my full-time job with the U.S. Coast Guard Band. We’ve moved to an 100% digital format and are posting pre-recorded performances, coordinating “at-home” style videos, and presenting masterclasses through social media and streaming services.
https://www.facebook.com/uscoastguardband
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-_zbCjwoC6gN03lV_vKb0Q

As I’m one who likes to stay busy, I’ve also been coordinating and performing in a recording initiative called the “Tuba Duet Project.” In the early days of social distancing, I was discussing with some friends, a couple of fantastic tuba players, my concerns about students not having ensemble experience during this time. Out of that conversation was born the idea to record single lines of duets and post them on Facebook and YouTube for tuba players to play the other line of the duet with us, all with the idea this would be a free service. To make it more accessible, we are publishing our own arrangements with the videos, so anyone with access to the internet can play along.
https://www.facebook.com/tubaduetproject
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHpDzmn5MRPrV-PkCsayfCw

And if that’s not enough, I enjoy working on projects around the house. I’m currently updating our attic insulation, clearing some overgrown brush on our property, and have plans to paint and update our kids’ rooms this summer. (Yes, I have a problem with having too much free time.)

You’re stuck on a desert island . . . what book, music/album/artist and movie? I’m a sucker for epics, so my book choices (I get two, right?) are J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings and C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia.

If I had only one album, it would probably be the Emerson String Quartet’s recording of J.S. Bach’s The Art of Fugue. It’s about as perfect of an album as I can fathom.

Movie? My family has been working our way through the Toy Story movies since everything shut down in March, and since I have love affair with epics and can’t imagine being on a desert island without my family, I’d choose all four Toy Story movies.

MEET THE STAFF: Betsy Pabon, RI Philharmonic Music School Faculty Member

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Where did you grow up? San Juan, PR and Bloomington, IN.

Favorite meal or restaurant? Hard– INDIAN because of the spices, Sushi because of the fish!

Coffee or Tea? Coffee!!!! Dark roast– cafe con leche:)

What instrument do you teach at the RI Philharmonic Music School? Suzuki Violin and Cello and Suzuki Group Classes through Suzuki Volume 3.

What inspired you to take up that instrument and how old were you when you started? I was 10 when I started playing violin. My parents are both classical musicians and they were very concerned that nothing they were signing me up for seemed to be “sticking”– they sat me down at McDonald’s one day and said– you choose! I had always loved watching the synchronicity of the violins and cellos at orchestra concerts– and once I had a violin in my hands it was love at first hold!

Who was your best teacher and why? I have been blessed with wonderful teachers.
Donna Bricht — my first teacher was the warmest, kindest, loveliest woman I have ever met. Henry Kowalski for being willing to reconstruct my violin technique from open strings! It was ROUGH, but he stuck with me! Mimi Zweig for her non-judgmental approach and for taking me under her pedagogical wing! Franco Gulli for playing the violin so beautifully and helping me understand the possible composer’s view of the music.

What inspired you to start teaching? Mimi Zweig’s String Pedagogy 101 class at Indiana University. From the first day I was on the floor with the kids and by mid-semester she pulled me aside and asked me to consider teaching. I am soooo grateful!

How long have you been teaching at the RI Philharmonic Music School? I don’t remember– maybe 2015?

What do you enjoy most about teaching? The people and the AHA! moments. I also get to see some of the best music making– when a student is in the zone, working hard, no anxiety– it can be magical!

What do you want people to know about the RI Philharmonic Music School? I love how quality music and people centered it is. When you walk into the Carter Center it feels like EVERYONE’S lesson is important, and that this place is about MUSIC. It is wonderful having the main lounge be comfortable and attractive and outside the rehearsal rooms so that all the great ensemble work can be heard. Awesome!

How are you keeping yourself occupied while being at home all day? I also am a middle school orchestra teacher, so I am just as busy as if I was teaching my regular schedule. One nice thing is that I am done earlier in the day!

You’re stuck on a desert island… what book, music/album/artist and movie do you want with you? The Bible Album– very hard. These days I am digging The B-52’s, Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones, David Byrne and the Talking Heads. For all-time favorites–Beaux Arts Trio Schubert Bb trio, Oistrakh’s Beethoven Violin Concerto, Yo-yo Ma’s Bach Suites, Glenn Gould’s Goldberg Variations– BOTH versions! The young because it is so brilliant and old because it is so deep! Life is Beautiful.

MEET THE STAFF: Thomas Parchman, RI Philharmonic Orchestra Musician

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Where did you grow up? Memphis, TN.

Favorite meal or restaurant? A really good mole poblano sauce.

Coffee or Tea? Yes.

What instrument do you play in the RI Philharmonic? Clarinet and bass clarinet.

What inspired you to take up that instrument and how old were you when you started? Started at 12 years of age to help my asthma.

What’s your favorite composition for that instrument? Brahms Clarinet Quintet Op. 115.

How long have you been playing in the RI Philharmonic? 26 years.

What is the best performance you’ve ever heard? Chicago Symphony playing Also sprach Zarathustra.

What do you want people to know about the RI Philharmonic Orchestra? Just how well the orchestra plays.

How are you keeping yourself occupied while being at home all day? Online course design.

You’re stuck on a desert island… what book, music/album/artist and movie do you want with you? Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, the Solti recording of Das Ring des Nibelungen, no single movie, but Netflix might be nice….

MEET THE STAFF: Sarah Atwood, RI Philharmonic Orchestra Musician

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Where did you grow up? MA/NH/VT.

Favorite meal or restaurant? Omani food.

Coffee or Tea? Coffee.

What instrument do you play in the RI Philharmonic? Violin.

What inspired you to take up that instrument and how old were you when you started? I spent my early years at a research station where my father was doing his ornithology work. When I was 2 years old, I heard another biologist playing the violin for fun, and knew that that was what I wanted to do. It took me two years to convince my parents I really wanted to play, and so I started the Suzuki method at 4 years old.

What’s your favorite composition for that instrument? Impossible to name! It is especially rewarding to play any music written by a composer who also played the violin and understood the instrument, such as Bach or Mozart.

How long have you been playing in the RI Philharmonic? Since 2016.

What is the best performance you’ve ever heard? I’ve heard many, from golden age musicians and conductors. One performance by Menahem Pressler at Tanglewood stands out, when he was around 93.

What do you want people to know about the RI Philharmonic Orchestra? The RI Phil is a group of sincere, dedicated people who love music and love sharing it with others. We can’t wait until we can return to perform together once more.

How are you keeping yourself occupied while being at home all day? Practicing, working on a solo violin recording project, working out, and studying languages.

You’re stuck on a desert island… what book, music/album/artist and movie do you want with you? A Tale of Two Cities because maybe then I’ll finally finish it, classical and hip hop music, and the Bollywood movie Lagaan.

MEET THE STAFF: Paul Surapine, RI Philharmonic Music School Faculty Member

Where did you grow up? Enfield Connecticut, suburb of Hartford, and just south of Springfield MA.

Favorite meal or restaurant? Many, but my “neighborhood hang” is the Caffe Sorrento in Milford MA.

Coffee or Tea? Mostly coffee, a nice espresso at night, occasionally tea.

What instrument do you teach at the RI Philharmonic Music School? Clarinet, Saxophone, and Clarinet Ensembles.

What inspired you to take up that instrument and how old were you when you started? I was 9, fourth grade, started in the public school instrumental music program in Enfield CT. Wanted to play trumpet but they said my teeth were too crooked. Second choice was clarinet, because I had seen a movie with Steve Allen “The Benny Goodman Story” that summer, and liked the music in it and the sound he made on clarinet. I had my first lesson on a Monday, September 30, 1968.

Who was your best teacher and why? I had several very good teachers that all sent me along the same path. My main teacher was Kalmen Opperman in New York City for almost 15 years, 1978 to 1993 or so.

What inspired you to start teaching? Started teaching when I was 14, going into 9th grade. I was helping out at the Enfield Public School summer music program, teaching some little beginners and I really enjoyed starting them out the right way and molding them into good players, modeling everything on what I was being taught.

How long have you been teaching at the RI Philharmonic Music School? Over 10 years, can’t really remember my starting year date.

What do you enjoy most about teaching? Sharing the joy of exploring great music and also of accomplishment when you work towards mastering a craft like instrumental performance.

What do you want people to know about the RI Philharmonic Music School? Great place, great community of people working to build and share a great culture and bring it to all people regardless of demographics of economy, education or backgrounds.

How are you keeping yourself occupied while being at home all day? Yes, teaching via Zoom, cooking a lot, trying to work on our garden, and running my own orchestra organization.

You’re stuck on a desert island… what book, music/album/artist and movie do you want with you? Too many to choose, I’d need a library float. Just a clarinet and my etudes memorized in my head. and some sun block.

MEET THE STAFF: Erin Flood, Enrollment and Student Services Manager

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Where did you grow up? I’m a Rhode Islander through and through! I grew up in Smithfield, Rhode Island.

What is your favorite song, artist, musical memory? My favorite musical memory is probably seeing James Taylor’s surprise performance at the Newport Folk Festival. Newport Folk Festival is one of the best musical experiences around!

Favorite meal or restaurant? My favorite meal changes day to day, but I love dumplings and Indian food. India Restaurant on Hope Street is one of my favorites.

Coffee or Tea? Tea for sure. Green tea or chai tea lattes are my favorite

You’re stuck on a desert island…What book, music/album/artist and movie do you want with you? I would definitely want the Harry Potter series because I can re-read those books over and over. I would want The Tallest Man on Earth albums. For movie I would pick the Lord of the Rings extended editions, because it’s 12 + hours of content!

What’s your pet situation? I have two cats, Gwen is 5 years old and Nova is 1 year old.

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What’s your title and how would you describe your role? My title is Enrollment & Student Services Manager. I am the first point of contact for new students who are interested in private lessons at the Music School. I manage the enrollment team, place new students with teachers, facilitate re-enrollment for summer and fall, manage our registration software, among other things! One of our teachers fondly refers to me as her “Student Liaison”

How long have you been at the RI Phil? I have been working at the RI Phil for 5 years. I started out as a Branch Coordinator working at the front desk.

What brought you to the RI Phil? I graduated with a degree in music, so I wanted to continue to work in a musical field and support musical education.

What do you want people to know about the RI Phil? The RI Phil Music School isn’t just for serious classical musicians. We offer all different musical styles, from pop, to jazz, to rock to students of all ages and levels!

How are you keeping yourself occupied while being at home all day? When I’m not working, I’ve been doing a lot of baking. I just received a sourdough starter from a friend so will hopefully have perfected sourdough bread by the time the Music School re-opens.

Any words of wisdom to help others through this? Stay connected. Social distancing can feel isolating, so make sure to connect with friends and family through calls and video chats or from a safe distance. Do things that make you happy. Try not to feel guilty if you’re eating tons of bread, like I am! This is a hard time for everyone so anything that brings you comfort should be celebrated!

MEET THE STAFF: Amelia Prioli, Community Partnerships Manager

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Where did you grow up? South Carolina – in the Upstate and the Lowcountry.

What is your favorite song, artist, musical memory? What an impossible question… I feel like I’d have to combine so many things, so I’ll note the following formative musical memories that I’m really lucky to have: 1. My family always made music when we got together (whether it was bagpiping or old hymns and folk songs). 2. I grew up listening to my mom’s original vinyl of Joni Mitchell’s Blue. 3. I always saved all my money to go to shows and buy records. 4. I’ve had some truly transcendent moments with classical music in various places ranging from small practice rooms to airplanes to famous concert halls.

Favorite meal or restaurant? My grandma’s kitchen in Abbeville, SC.

Coffee or Tea? Coffee – black.

You’re stuck on a desert island… what book, music/album/artist and movie
do you want with you? Book: An anthology of some sort – Rumi? Poe? Neruda? Music: Too many to choose, so I’ll plan on bringing my guitar or banjo instead. Movie: Jaws.

What’s your pet situation? I live my pet dreams vicariously through my neighbor’s animals.

What’s your title and how would you describe your role? Community Partnerships Manager – I manage the education programs that happen outside (and a few inside) of our building. This role keeps me energized and busy and constantly stretching creative muscles – from grant writing to direct classroom teaching to training teaching artists to social media to providing professional development to RI and MA teachers. Best job I’ve ever had!

How long have you been at the RI Phil? 3.5 years.

What brought you to the RI Phil? My husband went to RISD and I went to BU, so I spent a lot of time in Providence as a college student (and loved it here!). After a few years as a teacher in public schools in Chicago and Brooklyn, we decided to head back to New England. I was looking for teaching jobs and I got to wondering about who was providing some of the great supplemental activities I was seeing in schools which led me to the Phil. When I saw the breadth of what the institution offered, I knew I had to get involved, and the Community Partnerships position had just opened up. The rest is history!

What do you want people to know about the RI Phil? Here at the Phil, not only can our team articulate our core values, but our faculty, staff and musicians live them each and every day. We value artistry and education equally and our team works tirelessly to ensure that as many folks as possible in our region have access to our incredible programming. When any new opportunities come our way, the very first question is “how will this further our mission?” which is intentional, refreshing and bold and helps us serve our community in meaningful ways. If you’ve ever considered coming to a concert or taking a lesson or asking questions about any of our work, I encourage you to do so!

How are you keeping yourself occupied while being at home all day? Putting in all the hours it takes to come up with new and exciting ways to continue engaging our community! When I do get a moment and the weather cooperates, you can catch me social distancing on a river’s edge or out at a pond fishing. I’ve also been playing a LOT of music to keep up my chops.

Any words of wisdom to help others through this? Lean on who you love, prioritize your mental health alongside your physical health (consider seeing a therapist in addition to trying that new workout and hand-washing routine), and be gentle with yourself and your neighbor.

MEET THE STAFF: Amanda Mann, Box Office and Sales Manager

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Where did you grow up? Rhode Island.

What is your favorite song, artist, musical memory? Oh wow this is a tough one! I am obviously a music fan, but as an even bigger theater fan, I saw “musical memory” and my mind immediately went to theater musicals. My theater side is going to have to win on this one and I will say that seeing both The Phantom of the Opera and Godspell on Broadway in one weekend has to be my favorite memory. The Phantom of the Opera is one of the first musicals I remember seeing so getting to see it as an adult on Broadway was incredible. Godspell is the first and only play I have done outside of a school theater program so that holds a special place in my heart. It is very rarely done so I was ecstatic that I got to see it in general, but especially on Broadway.

Favorite meal or restaurant? There is a little Italian restaurant that is family owned near my house and they have the best homemade pasta. I usually get this chicken dish that they have which comes in a white wine, lemon and sage sauce topped with fresh mozzarella. Combine that with their homemade fusilli and I am a very happy lady. My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it. (Benvenuto in Cranston in case that made you hungry!)

Coffee or Tea? Neither…weird I know.

You’re stuck on a desert island…What book, music/album/artist and movie do you want with you? I have a book on the history of photography that was used as the textbook for my college photography class so I would pick that one. It is extremely long so it would keep me occupied, I love photography so it would be educational, and it is full of amazing photographs throughout time so it would keep me entertained. For music that I want with me, I would have to choose The Beatles. I am a big fan and they have SO MANY songs that I would never get bored. The Shining would have to be my movie choice. It is one of my favorite movies of all time and it is already one that I can watch over and over again. There is always something new that I discover when watching it and it is a pretty long movie so I feel like it would be good on a desert island to keep me entertained for a while.

What’s your pet situation? I have a dog named Maci who you can see working very hard in my photo. She is an 8 year old Shih Tzu/Yorkie mix. I also have a cat named Dom who loves me working from home because he gets to sit on top of my paperwork. And I have a lizard named Norman who is antisocial and is not interested in being my new work buddy at all.

My Work Buddy

What’s your title and how would you describe your role? I am the Box Office and Sales Manager at the RI Philharmonic. I work closely with the Marketing team and am in charge of all the ticketing for the orchestra. I take care of all things ticket related from subscriptions to single ticket purchases. The main part of my job though is customer service and having a relationship with our patrons.

How long have you been at the RI Phil? In July, I will have been with the RI Phil for 3 years!

What brought you to the RI Phil? I came from being a Box Office Manager at a theater. I had been with the company for 10 years and started there when I was a teenager. I felt like I needed to change it up a little and move to another company. I was lucky to be in contact with a friend who worked at the RI Phil and she suggested I apply. Now, I get to do what I know in terms of ticketing and customer service but in a new aspect of the arts.

What do you want people to know about the RI Phil? I want people to know how passionate everyone that works for the RI Philharmonic is about their jobs. The people that I have the pleasure of working with everyday truly love what they do and they love this organization. Not only is the staff this way about the organization but also our community, our school partnerships, and our patrons. It is still amazing to me how willing everyone is to lend a hand wherever it may be needed. It is truly a team effort at the RI Phil and that team is filled with some of the most dedicated people I have ever worked with.

How are you keeping yourself occupied while being at home all day? Besides the two laptops set up on my bed and a box full of binders worth of paperwork? Haha! I have been watching a lot of cheesy horror movies (my favorite), watching a lot of cooking shows even though they have yet to inspire me to actually cook anything fancy, getting some spring cleaning/organizing done, and getting extra snuggles from my pets.

Any words of wisdom to help others through this? Stay safe, be smart, and try to stay positive. This is a difficult time for everyone, it is scary and it is strange but we will get through it. To cheer myself up, I like to think of all the concerts, plays, movies, and festivals that we will all be at together again soon. The arts have been a huge help getting us through this time and will continue to be after.