Playing with the Fox Valley Orchestra

It has been my privilege to play violin with the Fox Valley Orchestra since 2015.  I would like to pay tribute to them and the importance of music in my life.  If you are looking for an afternoon date, a unique cultural experience, or just love classical music, I encourage you to attend one of their performances.

Putting Hard Work In

I played the violin all the way through college.  A combination of practice and love of music allowed me to play in the college orchestra and do fairly well, although I was not a music major.  Neither was I one of the best performers.  Still, I loved playing in an orchestra.  Unfortunately my accounting job took over my life, I moved to an apartment with thin walls, and I had little time or motivation to practice.

Eight years later, I saw a poster for the Fox Valley Orchestra advertising their upcoming pops concert.  They were going to play Star Wars!  The music of John Williams was a huge inspiration to me, and Star Wars was one of my all time favorites.  I knew I had to play in that concert!  I spent the next three months obsessively practicing.  My fingers were so sore.  The violin sounded so scratchy, so terrible.  But at the end of three months I was able to audition and join the Fox Valley Orchestra.  My heart swelled as I played Star Wars at the Fourth of July concert.

Since then, like the rest of the talented musicians in the Fox Valley Orchestra, I have put in hours of practice to prepare for our concerts.  I am honored to play with such talented people, but even above and beyond talent is their hard work and dedication.  So many people put a lot of time and effort into every concert, and their efforts pay off!  I encourage you to attend a Fox Valley Orchestra concert to support people who are following their dreams and passion and who are willing to put in hard work.

Getting Out

Playing in the Fox Valley Orchestra is my way of getting out of the house.  I have a baby to take care of 24/7, but all moms need some time away.  My husband is happy to watch Bugaboo when I go to rehearsals because he knows how important this orchestra is in my life.  Having a hobby outside the house is excellent for the mental wellbeing of all parents.

If you don’t play an instrument or have other hobbies outside the house, then attending the Fox Valley Orchestra concerts should become your hobby!  Approximately every other month we have a concert in Crimi Auditoriu at Aurora University.  It is a peaceful and educational way to spend a Sunday afternoon and get out of the house for a few hours.  Hand off your baby to her grandparents, take your husband, and make a date of it!  What a way to end the weekend!

Why an Orchestra

Solo violin is not my thing for one very important reason – I’m just not that good.  But choosing to be a part of an orchestra instead of just playing the violin at home is more about ego.  There is something thrilling of being a part of something!  For instance, when we played Jurassic Park this summer I was devastated at first because the second violin part hardly ever played the melody.  I’ve played this song on the piano thousands of times, and my favorite part, the part where your stomach jumps up into your heart and your fingers are on autopilot, was played by the first violins.  Still, when we ran through the piece in rehearsal that didn’t matter.  I could hear the first violins playing the uplifting music, and I bowed my meat and potatoes part.

If you want to understand why playing in an orchestra is so much more rewarding than playing alone, the first step is to go to an orchestra concert!  Watch as each section of the orchestra has their day in the sun, listen for sub-melodies and harmonies that give you goosebumps, notice where the rhythm is coming from.  Better yet, attend an orchestra rehearsal if you can!  Learn how everything comes together.  It’s so powerful.

The availability of quality songs for strings groups is fairly limited, and so to really get the full experience, you need a Symphony Orchestra.  I cannot say how much I appreciate the wind and percussion instruments who spend their time playing with our orchestra.  I know that they have access to other community groups like bands.  That they are willing to spend their time making music in a classical symphony setting makes the orchestra work.

Exposure to the Arts

There is a lot of respect for classical music these days.  Many people believe it helps encourage intelligence.  Others see it as more soothing than popular rock music.  But how familiar are you with it?  Every season I check the Fox Valley Orchestra’s schedule for my favorite “Classical Pop” songs.  By this, I mean classical songs that have found their way into our everyday knowledge: Beethoven’s Fifth, Pachabel’s Canon, The 1812 Overture.

But beyond Classical Pop, going to Fox Valley Orchestra concerts will expand your knowledge of the classics and provide you with a new library of music to choose from.  In the fall of 2015 we played Dvorak’s New World Symphony.  I vaguely was aware of the tune from the second movement, “Largo.”  But by playing the entire symphony I fell in love with movements 1 and 2, and I bet you will, too!  They are your quintessential Western Movie soundtracks!

Just when I think my list of fun classical songs is complete, we are exposed to new music that moves me and speaks to me.

Sense of Accomplishment

I love playing the violin so much that for most concert cycles I would be happy to just rehearse and never perform.  Then Sunday comes around and Crimi Auditorium fills up, the lights are dimmed, and we perform.  I realize that we need that concert to add finality to our work.  This summer our fourth of July concert was partially rained out.  It felt as if the pieces we never played just floated away into musical limbo.  When a musician wants to perform, it’s not vanity – it’s pride.  We have a sense of accomplishment in what we have done and what we have put together.  The Fox Valley Orchestra would like to share that sense of accomplishment with you!

Fox Valley Orchestra Cares

A major purpose of the Fox Valley Orchestra is to provide outreach to children and young adults and to encourage them to learn musical instruments.  The orchestra raises money to help provide instruments to those who would not be otherwise able to afford them.  They also partner with the Fox Valley Youth Orchestra.

What You Need to Know

Single concert tickets are $14.50 online or $17.00 at the door.

Concerts are generally two hours in length (including intermission).  Most concerts are at 3:00 PM on Sundays at Crimi Auditorium on the campus of Aurora University.

Visit the Fox Valley Orchestra website for the season schedule and more information.

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7 Comments

  • Cindy August 9, 2018 at 7:45 pm Reply

    Sounds like a great activity for you! I wish I could play a musical instrument. Dropped out of piano after two years 🤷‍♀️

  • Tara @sewmanypins August 10, 2018 at 4:23 am Reply

    I’m so happy you found something you love. This seems like a great opportunity. I am in awe of anyone who can play an instrument.

    • admin August 13, 2018 at 10:35 pm Reply

      Everyone should find something they love – even if it doesn’t pay the bills, it’s nice to escape sometimes.

  • Kirsta August 10, 2018 at 4:41 pm Reply

    I have always loved watching the orchestra. I have never played a string instrument. I am jealous of that talent.

    • admin August 13, 2018 at 10:36 pm Reply

      The longer I am in the orchestra, the more I wonder if I should have played another instrument, and then I’m like, “No, the violin is for me!” The winds are beautiful, but I cannot deal with the saliva! :O

  • Amy August 11, 2018 at 4:38 pm Reply

    I love this! What a great way to get a little mommy-outlet. I always refer to my work time as “using the non-mommy part of my brain.” This hobby/talent seems like something that falls in that category. Good for you!

    • admin August 13, 2018 at 10:36 pm Reply

      That’s right! We have to hold that “mom brain” at bay some way or another!

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