MEET THE STAFF: Beth Splaine, RI Philharmonic Music School Faculty Member

Where did you grow up? Wilmington, Delaware.

Favorite meal or restaurant? Anything my husband prepares. He’s a fantastic chef!

Coffee or Tea? Coffee.

What instrument do you teach at the RI Philharmonic Music School? Voice.

What inspired you to take up that instrument and how old were you when you started? Like most singers, I’ve known since I was little what I wanted to do when I grew up. It just took me a while and a roundabout road to get here!

Who was your best teacher and why? I’ve had five or six voice instructors in my life, and each has gifted me invaluable information. Some on what and how to teach and some on how NOT to teach. I try to take all of that information and apply it to my teaching. However, my last teacher in Holland, MI was the most informative and the technique he taught me is what I used on the operatic stage performing and what I teach now.

What inspired you to start teaching? My piano teacher/choir director in Hershey, PA. She referred someone to me and I told the young lady that I wasn’t a teacher, but she came for a lesson anyway. That was 16 years ago.

How long have you been teaching at the RI Philharmonic Music School? Almost two years.

What do you enjoy most about teaching? Connecting with my students, aged 6 to 92 (throughout my teaching career.) I LOVE seeing the students surprise themselves by improving. I LOVE seeing them perform and become a character who presents a performance the student didn’t think was possible. And, very importantly, because singers’ instruments are their bodies, when their voices improve, so does their confidence. I cannot express how wonderful it is to see a student’s general confidence increase!

What do you want people to know about the RI Philharmonic Music School? I feel great pride when I walk through the RIPHIL doors. Listening to all of the instruments/voices rehearsing gives me great peace, a sense of accomplishment. We are all working for something that is greater than each one of us. It is a good lesson for life. I want people to know that the school offers top notch instruction from teachers who genuinely care about the students and their colleagues.

How are you keeping yourself occupied while being at home all day? Teaching on line, of course. And writing. My next book, Devil’s Grace, will be released on 11/11/20. You can visit elizabethsplaineauthor.com to learn more.

You’re stuck on a desert island… what book, music/album/artist and movie do you want with you? Book: Crime and Punishment. I re-read it recently and loved it as much as I did when I read it thirty years ago. Again, so many lessons to be learned. Music: This is a tough one, but I’m going to have to go with Les Misérables. I love all of the music. Movie: No question on this one…The Bird Cage.

MEET THE STAFF: Ron Sanfilippo, RI Philharmonic Music School Faculty Member

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Where did you grow up? Middletown, RI.

Favorite meal or restaurant? Home. Whatever I cook.

Coffee or Tea? Coffee. Tea occasionally.

What instrument do you teach at the RI Philharmonic Music School? Jazz piano, jazz ensembles.

What inspired you to take up that instrument and how old were you when you started?My mom made me take lessons when I was very young.Made me practice too much. I hated it and quit. Played trumpet in high school and college. Tried classical piano in college but failed. After 4 years of college (no Degree) I transferred to Berklee. Started to study jazz piano.

Who was your best teacher and why? Harvey Diamond. When I first went to Berklee I was in a beginner piano class with drummers, horn players, etc.Harvey was the teacher. Tragedy forced me to leave Berklee after 1 1/2 years. When I left I began studying privately with Harvey. He was a true Artist. For the first time I realized what the art of jazz and improvisation was all about. I wanted to be like Harvey.

What inspired you to start teaching? Financial necessity. As I began to teach I found I was good at it and learned the music better myself.

How long have you been teaching at the RI Philharmonic Music School? 22 years.

What do you enjoy most about teaching? The challenge of getting all students to learn. We all have different learning challenges and curves. Often I have to be very creative to get students to master different skills. By doing this it not only makes me a better teacher, but I also learn what I have come to know even better. I become a better musician through teaching. As I get better, so do my students. It is a win win situation.

What do you want people to know about the RI Philharmonic Music School? From my perspective and what I do, the Music School is a great place for young students who are considering music a major in college or as a profession, it is THE school to enroll in. The atmosphere is relaxed, the teachers great, all the students are truly supported, and there are many different opportunities and courses to explore.

How are you keeping yourself occupied while being at home all day? Up until recently nearly ALL of my time was taken up teaching my classes at Brown University
online, as well as my Music School students. Lately I have been practicing and doing a lot of garden work in my yard.

You’re stuck on a desert island… what book, music/album/artist and movie do you want with you? It would be a good time to start reading the Bible. Music is tough for
just one album. Maybe John Coltrane’s album Ballads or one of the Bill Evans/Tony Bennett albums, or maybe the Band’s first album, The Band. Not sure about a movie. Possibly Avatar.

MEET THE STAFF: Nancy Kidd, RI Philharmonic Orchestra Musician

Kidd, Nancy - Family Concert Photo

Where did you grow up? Delmar, NY (Outside of Albany).

Favorite meal or restaurant? Anything with seafood.

Coffee or Tea? Neither.

What instrument do you play in the RI Philharmonic? Double Bass.

What inspired you to take up that instrument and how old were you when you started? I was ten years old and my elementary school had an instrument program. I was going to randomly choose flute or violin, but my mom steered me toward the cello (long story). I had to have a second choice, and I remembered there was some “big instrument” they told us about. Luckily for me, my mom knew it was the bass. The orchestra teacher put me on bass since I was the only one with it as either a first or second choice, and I was tall for a ten-year-old. So, I guess it was chance that brought me to the bass, but it was a lucky thing.

What’s your favorite composition for that instrument? Bottesini’s “Introduction and Gavotte”.

How long have you been playing in the RI Philharmonic? I have been a tenured member for nearly 15 years and subbed for about 5 years before that.

What is the best performance you’ve ever heard? Dvorak’s Cello Concerto performed at the Chautauqua Institute.

What do you want people to know about the RI Philharmonic Orchestra? We really enjoy playing together and I think this shows in our performances.

How are you keeping yourself occupied while being at home all day? I am still teaching remotely and taking a lot of walks.

You’re stuck on a desert island… what book, music/album/artist and movie do you want with you? Book: Harry Potter. Music: Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite. Movie: Star Wars.

MEET THE STAFF: Gabriel Langfur Rice, RI Philharmonic Orchestra Musician

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Where did you grow up? I was born in Berkeley CA, moved to Lawrence NY on Long Island before grade school.

Favorite meal or restaurant? Surprise me.

Coffee or Tea? Hot coffee, iced tea.

What instrument do you play in the RI Philharmonic? Bass Trombone.

What inspired you to take up that instrument and how old were you when you started? I started on piano, then trumpet for elementary school band in 4th grade. I switched to trombone for the next year, dabbled in bass guitar (dabbling again after 30 years), and then switched to bass trombone when I got to college.

What’s your favorite composition for that instrument? The best thing about the bass trombone is its function in ensembles, so my favorite things to play don’t necessarily feature the bass trombone. One of my favorite pieces to play is Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale – which can also be played on tenor trombone, but I think sounds better on bass.

How long have you been playing in the RI Philharmonic? 25 years.

What is the best performance you’ve ever heard? Hard to say, but I was deeply inspired when I was in high school by going to an open rehearsal of the NY Philharmonic with Leonard Bernstein conducting Mahler’s Second Symphony.

What do you want people to know about the RI Philharmonic Orchestra? I have had the opportunity to travel around the country subbing with other orchestras, many of which pay salaries to their musicians. The RI Philharmonic is better than any other orchestra I’ve played with except the Boston Symphony.

How are you keeping yourself occupied while being at home all day? I’ve been doing some teaching online. I’m practicing, but honestly not a lot. I’m doing the bass guitar dabbling I mentioned above. I’m a full-blown Facebook addict. I read the news as much as I can stand. I’m trying to become a better citizen and ally to people of color and others who need courage and support.

You’re stuck on a desert island… what book, music/album/artist and movie do you want with you? I can’t say I have a favorite book. One I’ve read several times is Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude. Likewise music – can’t pick just one. It’s a tough call between Led Zeppelin and Bach. I do have a favorite movie that I recommend everybody look up; it’s called Crazy People.

MEET THE STAFF: Zoya Tsvetkova, RI Philharmonic Orchestra Musician

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Where did you grow up? I grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia until the age of 16.

Favorite meal/restaurant? At this point – any, but I especially miss fresh seafood and sushi these days.

Coffee or Tea? Tea.

What instrument do you play in the RI Phil? Violin – 1st violin section

What inspired you to take up that instrument and how old were you when you started? My father was a violinist/violist who started teaching me when I was 4. My mother is a pianist so I always knew I’d be a musician. Growing up I didn’t realize that there were other possibilities – everyone around me was a musician.

What’s your favorite composition for that instrument? I don’t think I can even narrow it down to ten, but to me, the Brahms Violin Concerto showcases the violin perfectly in all of its incredible range of techniques and emotions.

How long have you been playing in the RI Philharmonic? I started as a substitute player in 2010 and became a member a few years later.

What is the best performance you’ve ever heard? Unfortunately I don’t get to attend a lot of concerts because often I have a rehearsal or a concert of my own, but seeing Mahler 2 with the Boston Symphony was among the most moving and special concerts I’ve ever seen. When the chorus came in in the last movement, it felt like angels were lifting me up to Heaven, and I’m an atheist.

What do you want people to know about the RI Phil? It’s a group filled with wonderful musicians from New England who love playing great music for sold out audiences in a beautiful hall.

How are you keeping yourself occupied while being at home all day? Well, I have an almost 2 year old, so there isn’t a lot of downtime to be bored or to have nothing to do.

You’re stuck on a desert island… what book, music/album/artist and movie do you want with you? For books I’d take Master and Margarita by Bulgakov. For music I’d take an iPod with my entire 30+ gigabytes of music. As for movies – I can live without them as long as I have my music.

MEET THE STAFF: Craig McNutt, RI Philharmonic Orchestra Musician

McNutt Annoyed Cat

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….