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The Orchestra Moves

Emily Grossman

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Published: October 31, 2013 at 6:51 AM [UTC]

I first met Tammy Vollom-Matturro shortly after I began pursuing the violin again and had been looking for ways to get involved in the local music scene. She'd assumed the role of conducting our community musical, and after working with her for just a short while, I found out something that eventually became tried and true through the years: Tammy can make absolutely anything fun--even Sousa marches. Her excitement for music is incredibly infectious, and she can talk anyone into playing just about anything. ...Even Sousa marches. (Hey, did I mention Sousa marches?) Not only that, but she is the most gifted clarinetist I've ever met. It wasn't long after we'd been introduced that we began playing in ensembles together, taking the stage in even the most far remote places, like the Aleutian Islands. (September 2005, remember that?)

This upcoming concert lies a little closer to the house, though. The past two years, Tammy has spearheaded a program aimed at connecting children in the public schools with the orchestra. Carnegie Hall's "Link Up" program provides, at no cost, workbooks, curriculum guidebooks, and orchestral parts for a production that allows kids to join the stage with a real live orchestra. Most of the kids learn parts on the recorder to play along with classical pieces that have been selected and organized with a theme that's tied together through narration and a slide show. This year's program, "The Orchestra Moves," shows the audience how music makes you move--or sounds like movement, or takes themes, like the first four notes of Beethoven's 5th symphony, and moves it through the entire piece. What's cool is, I can also get my own beginner string students involved with parts that they can play! I can't even imagine how cool that would be to a kid to be able to play Strauss's Blue Danube or Offenbach's Can-can with a real orchestra. Yeah, my kids are in for a treat: get ready for hundreds of kids on recorders, blowing their lungs out and falling off the stage in true memory-making fashion! It's a free family concert that's not to be missed, for sure.

On the phone yesterday, I asked Tammy what provokes her to devote hundreds of hours to volunteering at the schools, conducting, meeting with organizers, and assembling slide shows. After all, she doesn't get a dime for her time. "Ha, my husband asks that, too! No really, simply put: I'm a teacher. I just love watching the kids explore music and have a good time."

I thought about this after I hung up the phone. It's true, I would not be who I am today had it not been for a visit from a local string quartet to my classroom, followed by an invitation to pick out an instrument by the public school's string program. Someone out there had to plant the seed, and the opportunity had to present itself. I fell in love with the idea of playing a stringed instrument, not by listening to a recording, but by experiencing it live and personal. Who knows who might be out in the audience--or blowing a recorder--that might be inspired to continue a life-long pursuit of music as a result of this experience?

Thanks, Tammy, for not only being an inspiration and role model to me, but for connecting me with music. Can't wait to put the Khachaturian trio together!

From Tom Holzman
Posted on October 31, 2013 at 1:21 PM
What a wonderful and inspirational person Tammy is! You are so lucky to have her as a role model, and it clearly shows in the way you have chosen to live your professional life. Thanks for sharing that.

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