Department SpotlightWhitworth Music Faculty Earn Spokane Symphony Seats
The Spokane Symphony is alive with the sound of Whitworth musicians. Joining the ranks of five other Whitworth music professors and adjunct faculty, Associate Professor of Music Richard Strauch and adjunct music professor Roberta Bottelli recently won seats in the Spokane Symphony following highly competitive auditions involving musicians from around the country.
"Everyone in the Music Department knows about the very high quality of playing and musicianship by all of our faculty, both adjuncts and full-time professors," says Music Department Chair Dan Keberle. "One reason we attract so many gifted students is because they want to study with these gifted teachers."
Auditions for the Spokane Symphony involved learning multiple passages of music, preparing solos, and sight-reading to prepare for up to three rounds of auditions. The try-outs took place behind a screen so that musicians were hidden from the audition committee until a final decision had been made.
Strauch was selected as second trombone from among nine musicians. He has been on the substitute and extra list for the Spokane Symphony for the past four years and has performed in numerous other musical productions in the region. Currently, the symphony has three trombone chairs, and openings come up only when a tenured musician decides to leave. Tenure comes after one year of probation in the symphony.
"I love orchestral music as much as I love playing the trombone, and I have always enjoyed being a part of the great performances of great music," Strauch said. "I am especially looking forward to playing Stravinsky's Firebird and Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony later this season."
Strauch is the director of the Whitworth Wind Symphony; he joined the Whitworth faculty in 1997. He received his bachelor's degree from Wheaton College Conservatory of Music and his doctor of musical arts, master of musical arts and master of music degrees in trombone performance from Yale University.
Bottelli, who secured chair four for the cello, has also been a substitute player for three years with the Spokane Symphony. Three cellos auditioned for the one open cello position. Bottelli received her bachelor's degree from University of Puget Sound and her master of music degree from Central Washington University. She is currently a candidate for a master of arts degree in cello performance and musicology at Eastern Washington University. This is Botelli's first year as both a Spokane Symphony chair holder and an adjunct professor at Whitworth.
"I love working with other musicians and playing inspiring music," Bottelli says. "The arts are so essential, and it is a privilege to share this wonderful music with others."
Other Whitworth musicians who are members of the Spokane Symphony include Jeri Bentley, Rick Westrick, Lynne Feller-Marshall, Cameron Dunlop, Paul Raymond and Margaret Wilds. Students gain an appreciation for their professors' music ability by having the opportunity to hear them perform with such a distinguished group of musicians, Keberle said.
"It also means we have several of the best instrumental musicians in the entire Inland Northwest teaching private lessons and conducting ensembles at Whitworth," Keberle says. "It is wonderful for Rich and Roberta to get some public recognition of their outstanding talent, as well as to get to play regularly with a very, very fine symphony and its wonderful conductor, Maestro Fabio Mechetti."