Who We Are — Our Lives Outside the Orchestra

by Mary Ann Coggins Kaza

When casually observed at dress rehearsals or concerts, wearing tails or tuxedo, long gowns, white pops jackets, or street clothes, the 88 Oregon Symphony musicians appear and function as one very big team. Each musician, regardless of age, gender, or ethnic origin, is vital to the success of the organization. Although we are from Europe, Asia, and other parts of the United States, as well as Portland, Oregon, we ultimately chose to live in the Pacific Northwest as members of the Oregon Symphony. Our teamwork on stage also helps make us good citizens in our communities.

As citizens involved in community activities throughout the region, musicians commute to their Symphony jobs and varied community activities from residences as far away as Salem, Oregon. Meet musicians outside the Orchestra, however, and you'll discover a varied group of diverse, active, and fascinating people.

Among the members of the Oregon Symphony you will discover avid sports fans and athletes, fitness and health-conscious people, tennis players, football, baseball and basketball players, hikers, skiers, horseback riders, artists, photographers, poets, chess and bridge players, writers, woodworkers, gardeners, homemakers, plus excellent gourmet cooks. Some musicians also appear as guest soloists with other orchestras or participate in chamber music groups and summer music festivals around the world. Several Orchestra members have created and marketed their own recordings or CDs (see Orchestra recordings), or written books, created video tapes, and regularly appear as entertainers and guest lecturers, or as guest conductors or soloists locally and around the world.

All have made many sacrifices throughout their lives to achieve a high level of skill in music, and they work constantly to maintain this skill. This continuous striving for perfection carries over into their personal lives.

Outside the orchestra, these musicians are parents, spouses or in-laws, sons or daughters, teachers, educators at all levels of public and private elementary and high schools, colleges and universities. They are your neighbors, your friends or classmates, gardeners, home owners, taxpayers. They are active people, concerned and vocal about environmental and political issues. They are committed to child and elder care concerns. They are committed to assuring that music education continues to be provided for young people throughout the Northwest.

Many musicians are natural, foster, adoptive or step-parents and give freely of their time to children, group sports, and scouting activities, plus other non-musical community groups. Percussionist Steve Lawrence and his wife Lucy have been foster parents to over 70 children, many with severe handicaps. Several musicians regularly visit retirement centers to perform or spend time visiting with seniors and serve as advocates. Several musicians are active in local and national organizations to help speed research to find cures for AIDS, cancer, and other devastating diseases which have taken the lives of some of our players and loved ones.

The skills these musicians bring to the Orchestra — artistry, teamwork, and commitment — enrich the wider community as well as the world of music. Your Oregon Symphony musicians are special people committed to excellence who are becoming recognized as quiet leaders within their communities and as valued resources for the region.

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