Musician Spotlight: John Williams

John Williams - 2nd Violin Parker SymphonyOur next installment of Musician Spotlight focuses on one of our members who shares a name with a very famous composer – John Williams. John is a member of our second violin section, but there’s so much more to him than just a famous name! Like did you know he’s a flight instructor? And that he makes cheese? Get to know John better below.


How long have you played with the PSO?

I am in my 8th season. I began the first season that the orchestra moved to PACE.


What’s is your favorite piece you’ve played with the PSO?

There have been many memorable pieces. I would say probably Dvorak’s New World Symphony if I have to choose one.


How did you get your start in music? What drew you to the violin?

I started playing instruments as a child. I always liked the violin because of the range of music that one can play, e.g., classical, folk, country, etc.


Do you play other instruments?

I play the piano a bit. I used to play a couple of others, but it’s been so long that I would have to relearn them.


What do you find to be the most challenging part of being a musician?

I think that learning some of the more difficult orchestral pieces is challenging for me.


Is there something you’ve always wanted to play but haven’t had the chance yet?

Beethoven’s 9th Symphony


Who are your favorite composers?

I suppose that I’m pretty traditional in that regard. I love Mozart’s music as well as Dvorak.


Are you from Colorado originally?

I grew up in Houston, but I have lived in the Denver area for around 34 years now.


When you are not playing with the PSO, what are you doing?

I am an attorney, but I took inactive status several years ago, as I switched to an aviation career. I still work full time for a medical helicopter/medical transport company. I am also a part-time flight instructor.


Do you have any hidden talents or non-musical hobbies?

My wife and I live on a small farm in Elbert County. We have horses, chickens, goats, dogs, cats and honey bees. I raise dairy goats, and I enjoy making cheese and other products with their milk. All of these activities keep me very busy.


Do you get tired of the John Williams jokes?

Not really. I just wish that I had as much talent as my famous namesake.


What is your life motto?

I don’t really have a motto, but I always keep trying to learn new things. I think that it keeps life interesting.


Anything else you’d like to share?

Just that I really enjoy playing with the orchestra, and I feel fortunate to have that opportunity.

John Williams On The Farm

Musician Spotlight: Cindy Carrier

Cindy Carrier 2You may have noticed a new face in the first violin section. We have a new concertmaster, Cindy Carrier. If you read the announcement, you probably already know she is an established violinist and a music teacher, currently teaching elementary school music in Castle Rock. But there’s so much more to Cindy. Keep reading to learn more and be sure to come see her perform with the Parker Symphony at one of our upcoming concerts.


How did you get your start in music? What drew you to the violin?

Growing up we had music on almost all the time, and a wide variety of genres. I remember listening to the Amadeus soundtrack as a kid on holidays and pretending to conduct an orchestra while listening. I took piano lessons as a young kid, and it was fun, but the violin always looked like a fun instrument to play, so when I finally got to 5th grade when I could play an instrument in school, I already knew I wanted to play the violin. I have been playing ever since.


What do you find to be the most challenging part of being a musician?

The occasional lack of respect for musicians, or the idea that some people have that music is all fun and just requires talent, and doesn’t require hard work. Whenever I run into people who have those ideas, I try to educate them on how hard musicians work, how rewarding it is, and it’s not just talent that makes someone a good musician.


Do you have a fond musical memory you can share?

I remember listening to Tchaikovsky pieces, including March Slave and The 1812 Overture, with my grandparents visiting. We would all pretend to conduct the orchestra, and I always thought that was so fun. Whenever I hear those pieces I think about my grandparents.


What is/are your favorite piece(s) to play (on any instrument)?

I love to play Czardas because it brings me back to my Slovak and Hungarian roots (my paternal grandparents), as well as The Lark Ascending because it is soaringly beautiful. Then I love to turn around and play some bluegrass fiddle or Irish jigs and reels. I was in a string band in Kansas City before moving here and played lots of fiddle music with them, including a lot of busking at the local farmer’s markets, which was a lot of fun.


Is there something you’ve always wanted to play but haven’t had the chance yet?

I would love to repeat playing Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony. I played it in college and would love to play it again.


Who is/are your favorite composers?

My favorites are the Russian Romantics, including Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. It doesn’t get better than wearing your emotions on your sleeve and expressing the highest of highs and lowest of lows like only the Russians can do.


What brought you to Colorado?

My husband brought me to Colorado. He was accepted into medical school here in Parker, and so we got married and moved out here together. This year + being out here with him has been the best part of my life so far!


What music genres do you typically listen to?

I listen to so many genres of music. I do love the newer alternative rock (don’t judge!). Bands are more creative and more musical now, and I really enjoy the strong beats and fun melodies that some of those songs bring, especially since I listen to most music like that when I’m out for a run. I also love classical music, of course, and really appreciate KVOD radio out here. I may have the occasional hip-hop, country, folk, or other random genre in the shuffle on my Spotify playlist too.


What is your proudest accomplishment or happiest moment in life?

My proudest accomplishments so far have been running long distances. I have run 10 marathons and one 50k race, plus several half marathons and other distances. I am especially proud of the 50k race because at one time I never thought I would be able to run that far (32 miles) in one go. As a kid I had the academic and music talent but no athletic talent at all. Going from that to completing long distance races is a huge accomplishment for me, because it’s all hard work and effort, and NO talent. 🙂 Long distance running also makes me really happy (the endorphins from the runner’s high are real!).

I will add that ONE of the happiest days in my life was our wedding. My husband is an amazing man, and every day my relationship with him brings me such joy. Plus, our wedding was amazing!


Do you have any hidden talents or non-musical hobbies?

Since moving to Colorado my husband has gotten me into mountain biking, and I must say that Colorado is an amazing place to learn how to mountain bike. I am not at all an aggressive rider, but have slowly gained more confidence. Don’t expect to see me taking any jumps, though!

Last summer I learned how to scuba dive, and my husband and I went on our honeymoon to Cozumel where we did several ocean and cenote (almost like cave) diving.


If you weren’t a musician and a teacher, what do you think you would do as a career?

Quite possibly a chef! I love to cook and could see myself cooking or baking as a career, since I already spend a lot of my free time in the kitchen.


What are some of the most important lessons you seek to pass on to your students?

I want them to feel comfortable taking risks and know that it’s okay to make mistakes. Growing up I wanted to do everything right the first time and didn’t want to take risks, but I have found that I learn best by diving into something and making mistakes. I also want them to enjoy music, no matter what level they choose to engage in it, whether they become professional musicians or simply appreciate music.


What is your favorite food?

I really enjoy dark chocolate!


What are your favorite phone apps (musical or otherwise)?

I really enjoy Spotify—making my own playlists of music, finding others, and having a chance to explore listening to music through this app. A close second is YouTube, because you can find almost anything there! I use YouTube quite a bit with my students to show them orchestras and other musical performances.


What are some important responsibilities of being a concertmaster of an orchestra?

I believe it is critical for the concertmaster to know her part and have the bowings worked out as soon as possible. Also, to be available to assist any members, not just the violins, in any helpful way.


What do you most look forward to as concertmaster for the PSO?

Having the opportunity be a musical leader and getting to know the members of the PSO.

Cindy Carrier Thumbnail

Parker Symphony Orchestra Announces New Concertmaster

Cindy Carrier Announced as Parker Symphony ConcertmasterMusic Director RenĂ© Knetsch and the Parker Symphony Orchestra announce the appointment of Cynthia Carrier as the orchestra’s new concertmaster. Ms. Carrier succeeds former concertmaster Nadya Hill.

Ms. Carrier is an established violinist and music teacher. She was the assistant concertmaster of the Lone Tree Symphony and performed with the Parker Symphony last year. She has also previously performed with the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra dell’UniversitĂ  di Firenze in Florence, Italy, the Lakeshore Symphony Orchestra in Chicago, the Midwest Chamber Ensemble, and the Lee’s Summit Symphony Orchestra in Missouri. As a soloist, she performed in the Kansas City and Chicago areas including at the Gospel Fest in 2005 in front of an audience of over 3,000. She is currently also an elementary school music teacher in Castle Rock. She earned a Bachelor of Music Education from Wheaton College and a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

“In my heart I know that the decision to choose Cindy is the best one for the PSO,” said Mr. Knetsch. “She has such maturity in her sound, and a command of her instrument. She exudes confidence, and has such poise….. an impressive young woman.”

Ms. Carrier’s first appearance as concertmaster will be at the Parker Symphony Orchestra’s season opening concert on Friday October 26, 2018 at 7:30 PM at the PACE Center in Parker.

Parker Symphony Orchestra Celebrates 24th Season

Small version of Parker Symphony Orchestra - all members

2017-2018 marks the 24th season for what we now know as the Parker Symphony Orchestra. However, for the first 17 years of its existence, the orchestra was known as the South Suburban Community Orchestra. Founded by Denver resident Alan Long in 1994, the SSCO started as a small orchestra which performed in various churches around Denver and Centennial. Joe Larkin, a graduate of DU, led the orchestra as its Music Director from its inception in 1994 until 2006. René Knetsch has been the Music Director of the orchestra since the Fall of 2006.

The 2010-2011 season was a turning point for the orchestra. SSCO was performing at Grace Presbyterian Church in Centennial that year. The building was sold, which left the orchestra without a venue for performances. As luck would have it, the magnificent PACE center was being built in Parker at that time. RenĂ© contacted the Executive Director of the PACE, pointing out that we had an orchestra without a performance venue, and PACE was a performance venue without an orchestra. Two of the staff members from PACE attended one of the last concerts at Grace. Liking what they heard, they graciously invited the orchestra to perform on the PACE stage, later naming the orchestra as one of the PACE’s Artistic Partners. The orchestra changed its name to the Parker Symphony Orchestra before the first concert at PACE in November 2011.

Highlights from the past 6 seasons at PACE include collaborations with the Legend High School choir, annual holiday concerts with the Parker Chorale, children’s concerts with the Young Voices of Colorado children’s choir, a Veteran’s Day concert featuring the Colorado Mormon Chorale, several professional guest soloists, a high energy concert of Latin music featuring the amazing tango group “Extasis”, and, of course, performances of many of the greatest classical music compositions ever composed.

Our current season opens with the October 27 concert titled “Sounds of the Deep”. A collection of classical music masterpieces that have a “Halloween-esque” feel to them, including the overture to “Die Fledermaus” (the bat), and the very famous “Orpheus in the Underworld” (think – “Can-Can”). December 1, 2, and 3 will be our traditional “Classic Parker Holiday” with the Parker Chorale, which always includes may well-known holiday favorites. February 23, 2018 we will present a concert we are calling “Gone Too Soon”, which will be music composed by composers who passed away at a much too early age including composers like Mozart, Gershwin, and Bizet. The final concert for the season is May 11 and will feature Heidi Leathwood, piano professor at DU’s Lamont School of Music, performing the gorgeous “Piano Concerto in A minor” by Edvard Grieg.

Musician Spotlight: Dan Reinschmidt Rocks!


Dan ReinschmidtIf you’ve attended any Parker Symphony concert over the last 3 years, you’ve definitely heard our trombonist Dan Reinschmidt. And like last year’s holiday concert, he’s going to rock both the trombone and the guitar during the A Classic Parker Holiday concerts this weekend. After all, what would a Trans-Siberian Orchestra piece like A Mad Russian’s Christmas be without electric guitar?

Since he’s going to play such a big part in our upcoming performances with both slides and riffs, I thought it would be a perfect time to learn more about this multi-talented musician and dedicated family man.


How long have you played with the PSO?

I’ve been with the PSO since 2013. That’d be 3 seasons.


What do you do when you’re not playing with the PSO?

While my main day job is full-time dad, I also work at Play-It-Again Music in Parker, which donated some of the equipment we’re using at this concert, and as the choir director at St. Matthew’s Episcopal church in Parker.


Are you in a band?

I’m playing with several at the moment. I play trombone with the Blues Brothers, who played at PACE on November 26. I play bass guitar with an indie rock band called Survive The Planet, which is in the process of recording an album. I also play bass with a classic rock cover band, Misconduct, which will be playing a couple of private shows in December and February.


Do you play other instruments besides trombone and guitar?

Trombone, euphonium, guitar, bass guitar, and trumpet. I have an extensive collection of instruments that I can play a little bit on, but those are the instruments I am proficient at. Trombone is my “number one.”


How did you get your start in music?

I learned to play trombone in middle school band class. My mom all but insisted that I try band and I all but insisted that it be on the trombone. I got the idea from a school assembly in 5th grade where a man played trombone, accordion, and high-hat simultaneously. It must have made an impression on me.


Do you have a fond musical memory you could share?

Last season in the PSO my niece, Meaghan Reinschmidt, joined the PSO on trumpet. It was the first time I was able to play along side her in an official capacity. I love music and I love my family, when they come together it’s the funnest thing I can imagine.


Do you have a favorite band or musician? Favorite composer?

I’m into industrial and progressive rock as well as metal. If I had to pick a favorite band it would be Nine Inch Nails. As for composers, I love the classical and romantic periods the most, but few have reached the level of J.S. Bach. A close second would be Percy Grainger.


What are your favorite pieces to play?

Stavinsky’s Firebird Suite, Wagner’s Lohengrin, and any Bach Fugue. Lincolnshire Posy by Grainger was probably my favorite overall.


Is there anything in particular you like or find interesting about playing A Mad Russian or another piece in this concert?

I find it interesting whenever a piece of music is adapted to a whole new style. It’s like hearing something from a very different perspective. Many musicians hear the Nutcracker Suite and groan, “not this again!” but with this arrangement, it’s a completely different beast with a whole new energy.

As for the other pieces, I feel like the choir completes the orchestra, like we’re missing an integral part of our instrument without them.


What is your proudest accomplishment?

Seeing/hearing about former students of mine as happy, successful adults.


Anything else you’d like to share?

The PSO is one of the funnest long-term experiences I have ever been a part of, particularly because of the wonderful people in it. We somehow combine the serious nature of classical music discipline with silly over-zealous fun and camaraderie, especially between the low brass and trumpet sections.

Dan Reinschmidt Rehearsal


Musician Spotlight: Mary Nichols Performs Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto


Ruth Mary Nichols - Clarinet with the PSOMozart’s Clarinet Concerto was written shortly before his death in 1791. It is, in fact, one of his final completed works and his last purely instrumental piece. Interestingly, however, it was not originally written for the clarinet as we know it today. Mozart intended the piece to be played on the basset clarinet, a clarinet with an additional lower range. The basset clarinet, however, was as rarely seen in Mozart’s day as it is today, so shortly after its premiere and after Mozart’s death, it was published with the solo part adapted for the modern clarinet. Sadly, the original manuscript has been lost.

Mozart played an enormous role in establishing the clarinet as an orchestra staple. It was relatively new in his time, but he began composing for it as early as 1783. He once wrote to his good friend and clarinet virtuoso Anton Stadler, “Never would I have thought that a clarinet could be capable of imitating the human voice as deceptively as it is imitated by you. Truly your instrument has so soft and lovely a tone that nobody with a heart could resist it.” With such admiration for the instrument’s sound, it’s no wonder he composed the Clarinet Concerto to feature its vast range: the warm woody low register, the smooth middle register, and the bright sound of the high register.

The second movement, Adagio, is where the solo part is most prominent and includes the only true cadenza in the entire work. It is a great example of the delicate interplay that can occur between a soloist and an orchestra. It is also a melody made famous by the epic romantic film Out Of Africa where the beauty of the music blends seamlessly with stunning and unforgettable scenes.

The Parker Symphony Orchestra will be performing the Adagio from Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto featuring our very own Mary Nichols on the clarinet. She has been with the PSO for 7 1/2 years and, sadly, this will be her final performance with us (so don’t miss it!). Mary has a Bachelor of Music and a Master of Education from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She taught music, drama, band, jazz band, and choir for 32 years both in Missouri and in Colorado and currently teaches clarinet and flute in Englewood and Lone Tree. I recently had the chance to learn more about Mary, her life, and her music and want to share the highlights here with you.

How did you get your start in music and with the clarinet?

I started in 5th grade band in Macon, Missouri. I do not know why I chose clarinet, except that I played the tonette in 4th grade.

Do you play other instruments?

Yes, I play many. When studying to be a band teacher, I was required to take private lessons on all of the instruments. Flute is my secondary instrument.

Who have you studied with?

While in college, I studied clarinet with Richard Hills (student of Himie Voxman), and Bob Luyben (the inventor of the Luyben ligature and student of the famous Bonade). Later I studied with George Silfies (first clarinetist with the St. Louis Symphony). While attending the International clarinet conferences, I studied with Leon Russianoff (teacher of Stanley Drucker, NY Phil.) and Ramon Kirellis (D.U). While living in CO, I have studied with Don Ambler and Andy Stevens.

Where have you performed and where do you perform?

Groups I have performed with include the Stevens College Orchestra in Columbia, MO, Colorado Christian College, Colorado Clarinet Choir, Colorado Hebrew Choral, Mountain Winds Woodwind Quintet, and many various woodwind ensembles, orchestras, and bands. I am excited about performing with Cheryl’s group, Castlewood Chamber Ensemble, on March 13. Playing the Dvorak Serenade will be very special. I also play in the Lone Tree Symphony Orchestra as well. A friend of mine and I play many performances each year for the Symphony Guilds around town.

What types of music do you enjoy?

I like many forms of music. I grew up with country music, pop music (Doris Day) and band music (Lawrence Welk). In grade school and high school, I loved to sing. I sang many years in the church choir. When I was in Kindergarten, I was a regular Shirley Temple, always singing and dancing on the stage. As a teenager, I was paid to sing for funerals. I loved classical music, but the only place I heard it was on the radio. I would listen to a Chicago station every night. Today, besides classical, I love to play folk music.

Mary Nichols Rehearsing with the Parker SymphonyWhat do you like about playing the Mozart Concerto?

The piece is enduring. It never gets easier to perform. Every note has to be perfect. Mozart was such a genius to be able to write something so simple yet so difficult to perform well. It is a beautiful piece.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

I think my proudest moment was when Rene asked me to play in the South Suburban Orchestra. It was always my dream to play in a community orchestra. Rene gave me that opportunity. On a personal note, I think having grandchildren in my life is very important to me. Not having children of my own, I have been fortunate to have wonderful step-children and grandchildren. It makes life fulfilling.

Do you have a fond musical memory you could share?

I have so many memories, it’s difficult to narrow down to one in particular. I have been fortunate to have taught many students who still play their instruments. Some have become band directors and some are clarinet majors. At present, I have a former student at British Columbia University and one at Harvard. Bil Jackson, the former 1st clarinetist with the Colorado Symphony, studied with me from age 10 – 16.

One favorite moment in my life is rather funny. In the 7th grade, my girl friend and I won a talent show playing Clarinet Polka. The performance sponsored by a fox hunting group, was out in a wooded area on a concrete slab. We were so excited to win $25 that we went directly to my band director’s house to tell him. We loved our band director, Gerald Sandbothe. He was a German sax teacher who was a remarkable man. He turned out the best clarinetists in the state of MO.

I know this will be your last performance with us. Do you want to share anything else?

I would like to thank Rene and all of the members for your love and support. I will miss everyone. It makes me very sad not to see all of you members. I am very excited about our performance on Friday night.


Be sure to join us for PSO Goes To the Movies at the PACE Center in Parker, CO on Friday February 26 at 7:30 PM to see Mary’s final performance.


Musician Spotlight: Cheryl Poules Performs Gabriel’s Oboe


Cheryl Poules - Principal Oboe With the Parker SymphonyEnnio Morricone is certainly among the most celebrated composers of film music with over 500 scores written for cinema and television. While his may not be a household name, it is likely you’ve heard his work in such movies as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West, Cinema Paradiso, In The Line of Fire, The Untouchables, The Hateful Eight, and, of course, The Mission. While he’s worked on over 70 award-winning films, The Mission remains one of his most highly acclaimed soundtracks with an Academy Award nomination, a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score, and a BAFTA Award for Best Music.

The entire soundtrack is an amazing and lyrical blend of orchestral and choral melodies, native drums, and Spanish-influenced guitar, but Gabriel’s Oboe stands out as a truly unforgettable piece that can live on its own. In fact, it is has been arranged, recorded, and performed several times, most notably by cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

The Parker Symphony Orchestra will be performing Gabriel’s Oboe in its original instrumentation on Friday with our very own Cheryl Poules playing the beautiful melody on the oboe. Cheryl has been with the PSO as principal oboe for 11 years. She holds a degree in Music Education from Grove City College and Piano pedagogy from Dana School of music. She also plays oboe and English Horn with the Lone Tree Symphony and Denver Concert Band and is the principal oboe with the Mountain Winds Quartet.

I recently had the chance to interview Cheryl and ask her more about music, her career, and playing Gabriel’s Oboe.

How did you get your start in music and with the oboe?

I started on the clarinet in 5th grade band and oboe in 7th grade. I chose oboe because my band director was an oboist and an inspiration.

What are your favorite pieces to play?

I play and teach both piano and oboe and there are so many pieces I enjoy playing that I don’t think I could pin it down to just one piece. I especially enjoy playing with my quintet, The Mountain Winds…because intonation and dynamics are rarely a problem and we blend well to create very musical performances.

What do you enjoy most about playing Gabriel’s Oboe?

It’s a beautiful piece that lends itself to my best abilities as an oboist. The slow tempo and passionate melodic line coupled with the lyrical tone makes it a memorable piece. I was interested to learn that this piece has been rewritten for almost every musical instrument, the most famous not being an oboist, but Yo Yo Ma on the cello.

Who is your favorite composer and/or your favorite artist?

Again, I don’t have a favorite, I love all kinds of music which is why I dedicated my life to music when I was twelve years old and spent most of my life teaching music and performing. I am probably most fond of the Romantic Period. When I lived near Philadelphia we had season tickets to their orchestral performances and they were always exciting. We’ve enjoyed NY Phil performances at Vail several summers as well. Last year’s Tchaikovsky 6th Symphony was exhilarating.

Do you have a fond musical memory you could share?

When I was in college I performed with Louis Lane (Atlanta Symphony) and Howard Hanson (Eastman School of Music). As principal oboe of the Harrisburg Symphony, we had a concert with Aaron Copland conducting and he was a wonderful person to meet and play for. With the Delaware Symphony, we performed the Brahms Violin concerto with Eugene Fodor which has a wonderful oboe/violin duet in the piece.

Is there a piece you haven’t played that you would like the chance to perform at some point?

On oboe, I’d love to play Tchaikovsky’s 4th symphony again or his tone poem Hamlet, both of which have lovely oboe solos. I also enjoy playing the English Horn and my two favorites are Russian Christmas Music and, of course, Dvorak’s 9th with the famous English Horn solo.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Most of my proudest accomplishments have involved music. There have been numerous performances that I’ve enjoyed participating in. As a teacher of all areas of music from K-12th grade, I enjoyed directing musicals and watching my students evolve into life long musicians. I am saddened that music programs have been eliminated in so many schools as I’ve seen children really find themselves through participation in music programs. Yet I am glad to have had the opportunity to make a difference in so many children’s lives. I founded and developed the Douglas County Youth Orchestra and continue to find musical outlets for my talents.

What else do you love about playing the oboe?

The oboe is a difficult instrument to play and to maintain. I spend about 1/3 of my time making or working on reeds before I even play a note. But I wouldn’t trade it for any other instrument. When I play, I sometimes feel as if I’m sharing my soul, and love the opportunity. I hope that I can continue for years to come.


Be sure to join us for PSO Goes To the Movies at the PACE Center in Parker, CO on Friday February 26 at 7:30 PM to see Cheryl’s performance of Gabriel’s Oboe.