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NEWSLETTER                                    Summer 2020

Greetings from your ATLSM!

We hope you are safe and healthy, and finding ways to enjoy the summer!
So much has transpired since last spring and your ATL Symphony Musicians are committed to serving our followers, supporters, and the Atlanta community as best we can in person, through our newsletter, and on social media.

The worldwide pandemic has affected everything relating to both our daily lives and working lives. We feel a true sense of loss to not be onstage at Atlanta Symphony Hall to share the power of music with our community and supporters. No less important, the late May killing of George Floyd and social unrest that followed that tragedy have made us all stop to think about so much more than just ourselves. Our musicians, in partnership with the ASO staff, are actively examining how our actions going forward will be reflective of the change that is needed to ensure that the voices of those who have been marginalized are heard. The ATL Symphony Musicians are here for our supporters, our city, and for those that believe that the beauty of music can heal and unite our community.

We are excited to share our news with you. Please keep your eyes on our ATL Symphony Musicians Facebook page for regular newsletters, concert links, stories of our musicians, and even some surprises!

Grow and engage with us as we move forward!

Your ATL Symphony Musicians

A Warm Send Off
Ronda Respess (left), Paul Wagner (right), and Thomas O’Donnell have served a combined 149 years in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
When ASO musicians retire, we have a wonderful tradition to honor their dedication and service to the organization.  Musicians, staff, and board members gather at the end of the season for a festive party where we celebrate the invaluable contributions of our long term colleagues with food, drink, and heartfelt (and sometimes hilarious) tributes from musicians and our music director. We really missed celebrating Ronda, Paul, and Tom this season, so help us raise a virtual glass to toast our three retiring musicians! 

Ronda Respess, Second Violin
50 Years of Service
Q. How many years did you play with the ASO and who was the Music Director when you arrived in Atlanta?
A. 50 years – Robert Shaw

Q. What was the most enjoyable part of your job?
A. Learning and playing so many big choral works; playing and recording Mahler symphonies; and getting to know so much “new” music and composers.

Q. What is your favorite recording you performed in with the orchestra?
A. Goliov “Ainadamar” (go ahead and laugh!) and pick any of the Mahler Symphonies.

Q. What is the most fond memory you have of your time with the ASO?
A. Our first European tour and playing in the Schauspielhaus – fond and vivid

Q. What are your plans for the future and what are you most looking forward to doing in retirement?
A. Seeing a lot of my grandkids and expanding Franklin Pond Chamber Music

A Note from Noriko Konno Clift, Second Violin


When I had my daughter over 20 years ago at Piedmont Hospital, you were the first friend to come visit us.
I will never forget you holding our one-day old baby, and you couldn’t stop crying your eyes out!!
You are the sister I never had.
Good luck with your next adventure, sis!!

- Noriko

Paul Warner, Cello
49 Years of Service
Q:  How many years did you play with the ASO and who was the Music Director when you arrived in Atlanta?
A:  I miscalculated and agreed to retire a year too soon after only 49 years. Robert Shaw was Music Director and didn't hear me audition for him until after I had been in the orchestra for a couple years. He was instrumental in helping me get a better cello.

Q:  What was the most enjoyable part of your job?
A:  One of the best features of my job was getting a new program to learn every week.

Q:  What is your favorite recording you performed in with the orchestra?
A:  The outstanding memory for recording with the ASO was our first for Telarc. Symphony Hall was considered too dead acoustically so we went to the Egyptian Ballroom at the Fox....lots of reverb for the Polovetsian Dances. As I recall this was the advent of digital recording, early enough however to be released on LP.

Q:  What is the most fond memory you have of your time with the ASO?
A:  I had just begun seeing a new neighbor. For our first date I think I invited her to K-Mart to shop for paint (she declined), but she was a guest in the 5th row when the orchestra was performing Mendelssohn’s Wedding Music. I was sitting at the front edge of the stage as we began playing the Wedding March. I mouthed the words, "Will You Marry Me?" She said, “Yes,” and the rest is history, as they say.

Q:  What are your plans for the future and what are you most looking forward to doing in retirement?
A:  My sailing friends took a Viking cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam for their 50th wedding anniversary. I look forward to replicating that trip when European travel is no longer off the books.

A Note from Joel Dallow, Cello

“In every season I have been a member of the orchestra, we have performed a Halloween concert. Most years we have been encouraged to participate in a costume contest, judged by the audience. For many years Paul figured out how to put together a winning costume by dressing up in a very elaborate costume as a woman. He stole the show year after year, until a few of our other colleagues followed his lead and challenged the reigning champion. It was always a sight to see!

Paul’s light hearted sense of humor will be missed, it’s always great to have colleagues who bring that to the workplace!”

Thomas O’Donnell, Second Violin
50 Years of Service

From all of the ATL Symphony Musicians, we’d like to wish Tom a fulfilling retirement and thank him for sharing his talents with the ASO for a half-century!

New Faces
As we send off these three incredible musicians, we also welcome a slew of new talent to the orchestra. The ASO has held several auditions in the last year to fill open positions, and we will welcome more new musicians in the 2020/2021 Season than you can count on one hand! The rigorous audition process includes several screened, in-person audition rounds, often followed by a trial week or two playing in the orchestra, resulting in winning candidates who are selected from the best of the best. Stay subscribed to our newsletter and like our Facebook page to be the first to know when we introduce these fantastic additions to our ATL Symphony Musicians family.

Take a Bow...

Nicole Jordan, Principal Librarian
Nicole Jordan (pictured above) has been the ASO’s Principal Librarian since September 2016, but first served as the Assistant Principal Librarian beginning October 2011. This fall, she will begin her new position as Principal Librarian of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Christina Smith, Principal Flute of the Atlanta Symphony, sat down with Principal Librarian Nicole Jordan to discuss what it is like to be an Orchestra Librarian and her new position with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Christina Smith: How long have you been at the ASO? What is your exact title, and what are your responsibilities?
Nicole Jordan: I have been with the ASO since October 2011. I won the Assistant Principal Librarian position first and served in that role for about five years. In September 2016, I was appointed Principal Librarian of the ASO after winning that audition. 

CS: Where are you from?
NJ: I was born and raised in Philadelphia!

CS: Yay, Philly! What was your path to becoming an orchestra librarian? Did you study an instrument and play in an orchestra? 
NJ: I've played instruments my entire life. I started on the cornet/trumpet when I was 7 or 8 and continued that throughout high school. When I was in high school, I also learned viola. I played in all of the ensembles we had and even participated in the All-City Orchestra. I also was a bit of a jack of all trades in high school. I learned to play flute, clarinet, contrabass clarinet, and violin. 

My path to becoming an orchestral librarian was pure chance. The summer that I finished my undergraduate degree in viola performance, I worked for my school's summer opera festival. I was asked to be the librarian and personnel manager (I didn't know what either of these things were at the time) because I was organized. I didn't know what in the world I was doing but the summer was successful and they asked me to come back the next year. After I moved back to Philadelphia to start my master's degree at Temple University, I was introduced to the ensemble librarian there. She and I talked and I told her I worked as a librarian at a small summer opera festival and that they had asked me back so I needed to find a way to get more experience. She recommended that I reach out to the Philly Orchestra librarians because they had a fellowship program there that she had participated in and that could help me get more experience. I reached out, had an interview and audition (I didn't know what either of these things were either) and the rest is history. It was very shortly after I earned that fellowship position that I knew that I wanted to be an orchestra librarian.

CS: What is your favorite and/or most interesting part of your job? 
NJ: It's hard for me to pick one favorite thing I love about my job. It's so varied, which I love, and that keeps the job from being boring. If I had to pick my favorite parts of it, I would say I love music preparation and editing (there is something really fascinating about getting to dig into music intricately), researching pieces of music and composers, working with new and living composers, and working with a varied group of people (conductors, composers, musicians, etc). 

CS: What is the selection process like for an orchestra librarian? What are the most important parts of the audition/interview?
NJ: I cannot speak to the selection process, as I'm usually in the selectee pool, but I can talk about the audition/interview process. Librarian auditions are quite mysterious because they different greatly from the instrumental auditions most people are familiar with and they (librarian auditions) happen way less frequently than other auditions. Usually there are about 4-5 rounds for our auditions: resume screening, initial interviews, homework round, test round, and final interview round. Homework and test rounds are usually the "playing" parts of our audition; this is where our knowledge of the profession, both general and organization specific, are assessed.

The homework round usually includes a budgeting exercise, a bowing exercise (this is to assess what our bowings look like and what our familiarity is with the needs of the strings sections, specifically), a page turn fix exercise, a transposition exercise (this is to assess our familiarity with transposing instruments in non-strings sections), and a computer notation and hand manuscript exercise. The main test will have all elements of the homework exercises as well as have questions specific to the organization as well as general knowledge of the profession (licensing agencies, copyright laws, publisher and rental company familiarity, scenario exercises, translations, musical edition questions, etc). The fun part of a library audition is that unlike an instrumental audition where you will usually be provided with a repertoire list that you prepare ahead of time (that that committee will choose from) for your rounds; we librarians never know what we will be asked so we either know it or we don't.

I'd say the most important part of the library auditions is to prepare well and to be yourself in your interview rounds. Because every person on a library audition committee is looking for something different and specific to their department/area, we have to be sure that when we are in these interview rounds that we are articulate and genuine in how we express ourselves whilst simultaneously being sensitive to the needs and requirements of all the constituencies within the institution. It's important to show that you understand your role within the organization and that you can demonstrate to every person that you are talking to that you are the person that can do/be what they need.

CS: We at the ASO are all sad to lose you next year, but thrilled for your new opportunity in Philadelphia. How does it feel to be moving back to your hometown, to work for the orchestra you grew up with?
NJ: I am still pinching myself; it still feels surreal. It was always my dream to work for the Philadelphia Orchestra (first as a member of the viola section and then as the Principal Librarian), and I honestly thought that my time there as a library fellow many moons ago would be the closest I'd get. To have gone through that lengthy audition process and come out as the winner, well, it's still very hard to form a coherent set of thoughts about it. I'm thrilled that I get to return home, where all my family is (and where it isn't so hard to find a good cheesesteak!), and I am beyond thrilled to be able to return home to become a part my hometown orchestra!

I will of course miss my friends and colleagues here at the ASO. This being my first big job fresh off of my fellowship in Philadelphia, I have some really good memories, friendships and experiences from my time here and I will treasure those!

CS: There have been some important "firsts" in your career so far, most notably first female African-American librarian of a major orchestra, and now Principal Librarian for one of the oldest and most celebrated orchestras in the country with your Philadelphia appointment. Do you see yourself as a pioneer, both for women and African-American musicians? 
NJ: This is an interesting question. I've never really set out to make history or be a pioneer. I just pursued what I loved to do and always operated with the belief that I could do it at the highest levels of my profession. I find that I never stop learning in my role as a librarian, and the more that I learn, the more I realize that I want to know more so I've pursued my craft with a single-minded focus. That said, I can say that I am truly humbled to join the ranks of history makers and pioneers out there and that I am honored that people can look to my achievements and have them be inspiration for their own. 

CS: What do you enjoy doing in your free time? Any hobbies? 
NJ: My hobbies are quite varied! I am an avid tea collector/drinker and have tons of teaware and teas. I also collect fountain pens. I recently picked up knitting during quarantine, and I've become obsessed with that! I also love cooking and baking. I've been a tennis fan my whole life, and once I had the opportunity I took up tennis as well. (I was getting quite good before quarantine.) Lastly, I am an avid video game player. A fun fact that very few people know about me is that I used to be a highly ranked, end game content player in the game World Of Warcraft. I retired that part of my persona years back, but I still enjoy a lot of other games in my spare time!
Miles with Marci
...because life is more fun on foot!
One of my favorite things about running in Atlanta is seeking out murals I haven't seen before. Did you know Atlanta is considered one of the best cities in the country for street art? The Beltline and Krog Street Tunnel have been canvases for many artists to spice up the view with art ranging from colorful patterns to powerful messages. My hope is to show you some places that are worth seeing with your own eyes!
The John Lewis Mural can be found on the corner of Auburn Avenue and Jesse Hill Jr. Drive in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood of Downtown Atlanta.
Along the powerful message category, I wanted to share this photo I took of the John Lewis mural in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood. On a hot and humid July morning, I ran down to pay my respects and capture a photo of what has recently become a makeshift memorial. This mural was actually painted back in 2012 by artist Sean Schwab and it's so large you can see it from the highway! Located less than a half mile from the birth home of Martin Luther King, Jr. it's no wonder Atlanta is known as the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement. 

Please join me for this regular feature as I show you some of my favorite spots around the city! 
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