January 2019

#SOchats with Naomi  
 
Hello and welcome to our January SOchats. the first SOchats of the new year.  I’m Naomi Chaitkin Nimmo, the Executive Director.  We started this monthly chat room so we can answer your questions and talk about the orchestra and the response has been great!  Please keep the comments and questions coming. Thanks.
Q:  Are you having an additional performance of the new piece “Pineland Breeze?”
 
A:Yes we are. In addition to the two scheduled performances on Feb. 8 and 9 on the Subscription Series, we have added an additional one on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 2:30 PM at St. Paul’s Doar Hall. The doors open at 2:00 PM. The event will consist of the composer, Rene Orth, discussing her new piece, then a performance of the piece in a chamber version she also wrote, then a Q&A with Rene, Alex Boissonnnault, the violin soloist, and Wojciech. After that there will be refreshments catered by Parish House Catering. It is free to the public and everyone is invited. If you’ve already heard the piece at the 8th or 9thperformance, you will enjoy this Sunday version even more.
 
Q: Do I owe money for the new season?
 
A: No, not yet. Our season runs from September to May so we still have 3 concerts to go in this season. We’ll let you know when renewals are necessary.
To read previous #SOchats please click here
Joke of the Month
 
Dear Trombone Section: You know we love you!

 

Interviews with the Musicians
 
Abigail Pruett
Abigail Pruett
Principal Bassoon
Where are you from?
I am South Carolina born and raised – I am from Anderson, SC, but I’ve attended school in Spartanburg, Rock Hill, and Charleston, and I have had family live in Columbia, Bamberg, and Summerville. I’ve pretty much covered the geographical regions of South Carolina. I currently live in West Ashley with my “cat children,” Nolan and Feliks.
Why did you choose your instrument?
The story of why I play the bassoon is one my mother loves to tell, and I suppose it speaks to my tenacity and overall stubbornness. I am from the land of Friday night football and marching band, and I spent a couple of years in elementary school following my high school-aged sister around for various marching competitions and half-time performances. Her band director insistently put the bug in my ear that I would play the bassoon for him once I reached middle school. He left the school district before I ever set foot in a beginner band class, but the musical oddity of the bassoon never wandered far from my mind.
All 5th grade would-be band students participate in a special day of “mouthpiece testing” in order to determine a student’s potential for an instrument. Always a timid person, I couldn’t produce a sound on a single instrument. I don’t think I could have made a sound on a snare drum if I’d been asked. Visibly frustrated, the lady leading the testing asked, “what do you want to play?” The only thing I could think to squeak out was, “…the bassoon.” She eyed me suspiciously and raised her palm in front of my face. “You have to have hands this big to play the bassoon.” Of course, as a diminutive 5th grader, her hands looked the size of dinner plates to my young eyes. I remember feeling frustrated and embarrassed in front of my peers, and determined to show that lady that yes, I could TOO play the bassoon. So day one of 6th grade band class my teacher handed over the instrument and basically said, “have at it.” It’s been a roller coaster ride ever since.
Education and previous careers/What is your day job?
I am from a very rural community that did not have particularly significant arts programming in its schools; fortunately, I came across a few highly impactful music teachers throughout grade school who motivated me along the way. I took piano lessons from age 5, but never felt I had the aptitude for it like other members of my family. So when 6th grade band came around, I found myself playing the weirdest possible instrument, something that would set me apart – the bassoon. Besides the bassoon, I voraciously participated in any school music program I could – concert choir, chamber singers, jazz band, marching band, percussion ensemble, and even used my shaky piano skills to serve as choir accompanist in high school.
I played the bassoon all through grade school, not once taking a private lesson or performing with an orchestra. I finally had the opportunity to sit in with an orchestra my senior year of high school – I recall lots of music by Elgar, including “Nimrod” from Enigma Variations and “Pomp and Circumstance” (yes, the graduation march). I was entirely out of my depth. Tenor clef? Passages of running sixteenth notes? And what are all of these string instruments?? I could barely keep pace, and I recognized how much I DIDN’T know about the bassoon. Rather than feel discouraged, I felt inspired – and somewhat addicted – to the challenge and thrill of performing with an orchestra.
All of this music left me with practically no other choice but to major in it in college. I attended Converse College in Spartanburg, SC on music and academic scholarships, with the intention of becoming a high school band director. Toward the end of my undergraduate education I discovered that I found just as much thrill behind the scenes of the performance as I did onstage. This discovery led me to pursue a degree in arts management, and I earned a Masters in Public Administration with emphasis in arts management from the College of Charleston in 2015. Ever since, my career has been an amalgam of music education, music performance, and arts management. I have worked with a variety of arts nonprofits, most recently the Peace Center for the Performing Arts in Greenville, SC, in their education department. I currently teach general music in Charleston County School District as well as private bassoon, piano, and voice lessons around the Lowcountry.
What position do you hold with the Summerville Orchestra and what other activities do you do
with the orchestra?
I have my fingers in a lot of pies with the orchestra, which tends to be a trend in my involvement with anything. I am currently principal bassoon, the President of the Musicians Board and therefore a member of the Orchestra Board of Directors, the freshly-appointed Stage Manager assisting in behind the scenes operations, and I am a member of the SO Wind Quintet. On top of my “day job.” Who needs to sleep, anyway?
What do you like best about SO?
Summerville Orchestra popped up in my life at a time when I had all but abandoned playing and growing as a musician – “life” had simply gotten in the way! SO gave me the opportunity to shake off my insecurities about my playing and connect with a wonderful group of caring and fun people. It’s been a positive source of personal and professional growth for which I am very grateful.
Besides music what are your favorite things to do?
During any downtime you’ll find me devouring any form of book, boxing and weight-lifting for exercise, or scheming about my next trip. I spent last summer riding bicycles through Barcelona and making pierogi in Poland, and I’m always itching for another travel adventure. Still, you’re equally likely to find me in my 5th hour of a Netflix binge. We all need some true downtime!