PC: Christopher Briscoe Photography

How has the COVID-19 health crisis affected you as a musician?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on my life as a musician. During this period I have come to realize more than ever how important it is to be able to share music live and in person with fellow musicians. Not being able to play with the Rogue Valley Symphony has been particularly painful. This is a situation where you don’t realize how important it is until it’s no longer there. On the flip side, I now have a new appreciation for what RVS means to me. I don’t think I’ll ever take our orchestra for granted again! In lieu of playing in an orchestra, since April I’ve been participating with a number of horn players in Sunday afternoon readings of horn ensemble music in Lithia Park near the bandshell. Also recently played a small outdoor concert with one of my trumpet students and some of the horn group members. These have been lifesavers, giving me the chance to play with my friends and colleagues and feed my soul with music.

Are there any aspects of your professional life that are unchanged?

As a middle school band teacher and private teacher, I’ve been dealing with the difficulties of remote teaching, using Zoom and FaceTime and other online technologies. The part of teaching where we interact with students in whatever way is possible doesn’t change. I’ve recently resumed in-person lessons with my students outside in my backyard, appropriately distanced. Simple on the face of it, having the chance to see and talk to my students live and in person again has been a wonderful gift.

Bruce and student Jake at an informal house concert

What do you think is the role of musicians now?

We have a unique opportunity to contribute to people’s well-being with music. We have seen powerful virtual performances on the internet (I have participated in some of those events), and RVS will be making its own contributions to that medium toward the end of the year. I think audiences are appreciating the value of live music since it’s been shut down in large part. Any chance I get to participate in performing music live allows me to connect both with fellow musicians and people listening. One anecdote is that a man had let his friends and family know that he would be asking his girlfriend to marry him on a Sunday afternoon in Lithia Park. This happened to be during one of our horn sessions. The man’s friends and family hid themselves near the fountain above the bandshell, and he proposed to her. Someone who had been listening to us became aware of the forthcoming proposal, and let us know. We couldn’t see what was going on, but upon hearing whoops and cheers from the friends and family when she said yes, I started playing the Wagner Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin. The gathering responded with cheers after I finished. It felt good to be able to contribute to the couple’s special moment in a purely musical and universally recognizable way.

Have you rediscovered an old hobby/passion while in quarantine?

Bruce with wife Marcia on Upper Table Rock

My wife Marcia and I have been doing a lot more hiking during this time. It’s one of the most enjoyable and satisfying activities that are available while we’re quarantined. We started hiking as a family back in April when our daughter Alison was here with her dog, and have continued since she went back to Indianapolis. The other day we were on Mount Ashland and it turned out to be a popular day to hike. Either we or people we encountered on the trail often stepped off the path to allow everyone the space to safely pass. More recently we went to Table Rock with our friend and RVS colleague, Cindy Hutton.

Have you read or watched anything interesting that you’d want to share?

I’m currently reading The Silkworm, one of a series of mysteries by Robert Galbraith, J.K. Rowling’s pseudonym. The story is of course completely different from Harry Potter, but I enjoy her narrative and descriptions of the characters and settings.

What’s something you’re grateful for today?

I remain grateful for my wife and daughter and for the chance to be with them this year. Alison will be returning to stay with us for some time later this year, and it’s a joy for us to be together again. As I mentioned before, the Sunday horn group has kept me sane and allowed me a wonderful musical outlet and in-person time with my friends and colleagues. I’m also very grateful to everyone who has been taking the pandemic seriously and interacting responsibly and safely with one another. Having more time in general, I’m grateful to be able to practice and continue to improve my playing.

What’s something you’re looking forward to?

Like I’m sure everyone in RVS is, I’m looking forward to playing with my fellow orchestra musicians again. I’ve missed the playing and comradery greatly, and can’t wait to play orchestra music again. I am very much looking forward to seeing and interacting with the students again at Ashland Middle School. It’s still an unknown what our situation will look like in the upcoming school year, but I’ve so missed the personal contact with these young people and look forward to being with them again.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I appreciate the communication we’ve had from Joelle and Martin. It’s reassuring to know that going forward there’s a plan to get us back to playing again and that our orchestra as an organization, cares about us.


Next up: Lisa Truelove, Principal Cello

Curious about our other musicians? Visit http://rvsymphony.org/news/ to read more. New posts are added weekly or so.