Rogue Valley Symphony

Continuing our series of RVS musician profiles in the time of COVID, we caught up with Lori Calhoun, who has served as Principal Clarinet for the last 30+ years. Lori also enjoys musical theatre, having performed with Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Camelot Theatre, and Oregon Cabaret Theatre, doubling on clarinets, flutes, recorders, saxophones, duduks, and wind synthesizer. In addition to teaching for our Link Up program, Lori is also an active private instructor, coach, and adjudicator.

Lori (front row, third from left) with RVS colleagues
PC: Christopher Briscoe Photography

How has the Covid-19 health crisis affected you as a musician?
The crisis has been bigger than I can really wrap my brain around.  So many dead and suffering.  So many out of work.  I lost all of my work, whether playing in RVS or the pickup orchestras in the area, and I lost my last months of teaching children through the Link Up program once the public schools closed for the calendar year.  I had one private student whose parents could afford to keep her in private lessons – now via Zoom; our goodbyes each week seem to take an even more tender turn.  The saddest thing for me was not getting to hear the Link Up kids play their finale concert, and the thought of all of their books and recorders sitting quietly breaks my heart.
Unfortunately, at around the same time as the lockdown began, I was having back trouble.  I had managed to get in and get x-rays just before, and fortunately nothing showed up… well, except for the pain.  Pain has been my constant companion throughout all of the news reports of the sick and dying, of the social distancing, of the political insanity, of the bravery of medical staff, and essential workers.  In a way, I hold that pain in a prayerful way to keep it closer as a memorial for those brave hearted, and lost.

What do you think is the role of musicians now? 
Rest, learn, stoke any passions, think outside the box, keep in touch with colleagues, keep hope.  Sometimes cry.

Have you re-discovered an old hobby/passion while in quarantine? 
With all this time on my hands, between trying to get through to the Oregon Department of Employment, some 200 phone attempts a day, I took my paintbrush back up and have gotten into a rhythm.  I have already sold 3 of the 4 paintings I did, and wish my pain would allow me longer days at the easel.  Who knew people would buy my art? I did finally get UI on track.  I am pretty happy about that.

My garden has exploded with the riot of an English village.  I had to have the Kesslers come mow for me a couple of times, when pain wouldn’t allow, and have taken many photos of the place nature has taken over.  Now birds are nesting in my secret garden, and I never want summer to come. Is being homebound oh that very different from my life before?

What’s something you’re grateful for today? 
Today, I am very grateful for friends and family who have donated to my recovery with funds, who have shared their generosity with gifts and gift cards for food, and with homemade masks.  I cry daily at their love, which has buoyed me out of the depths.

I have become closer to people via Facebook.  It’s a nice island.  My neighbors have waved a little bit more.  My family has been very supportive.  Life is full of good.  I want to focus on that.

What’s something you’re looking forward to? 
I am looking forward to a healed body, hugs with friends, and hearing strings on stage in front of me.  Oh yeah… and climbing on all fours in the dirt.  

Next up: Mark Jacobs, Principal Trombone