June 22, 2015

Meet the RPO staff: Director of Education Barbara Brown

You have seen our orchestra in action, but what goes on behind the scenes?

We now present to you: The staff members of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra! Check out what we do inside and outside the office!

Our series begins with Seattle native Barbara Brown, the RPO’s Director of Education.

What does your job entail? I organize all of the RPO’s education concerts, community engagement concerts, and family concerts.

Barbara Brown
What did you want to be when you grew up?
From the beginning? First, I wanted to be a children’s book author and illustrator, then I wanted to be a paleontologist, then I wanted to be a pilot for Delta Airlines, then I wanted to be an astronaut, and then I wanted to be a saxophonist. Just all over the place!

What did you study in college?
For my undergraduate, I did saxophone performance and biological anthropology, and then I came to the Eastman School of Music for my master’s in saxophone performance.

What is your favorite part of your job?
That I get to be creative with some of the different activities that I get to prepare for the kids.

How have your prior experiences prepared you for the job that you currently have?
They have prepared me in a sort of “distant” way. With this job, there is a lot of multitasking. With having two different majors at one point, there was a lot of juggling to make sure that I had everything organized and that I was all set for everything. Also, the experiences of practicing. I learned a lot of skills that I think are transferable to basically everything in life.

Do you have a certain daily routine that you must abide by, or do you take each day as it comes?
I wouldn’t say that every day is different: things go in cycles. In the fall, I am busy with getting schools registered for concerts. Winter is heavy with all of our field trip concerts, so that’s really my busiest time, to get everything prepared for the concerts. Certain other times of the year are heavy with finding venues for our different community concerts that we do. Right now, I am scheduling a bunch of different ensembles for summer. It really depends more on the time of year what each day looks like.

What advice could you give to our readers that have a sincere interest in working in the nonprofit sector for an arts organization?
I think my advice would be to be as organized as you possibly can. There tend to be a lot of last minute things that happen. Nonprofits usually have small staffs, meaning you’re responsible for a lot of things. The more organized you can be, the better you can manage everything you’re doing, and make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

What does the RPO mean to you?
It means a lot of things to me, as my husband (RPO clarinet/bass clarinet Andy Brown!) and I are both employed by it. It is our life! I also think the RPO is under appreciated. For a city this size to have an orchestra at this level, I don’t think people always realize what a gift the RPO is to the community!

What has been your happiest, most memorable moment during your time as an RPO staff member?A couple of years ago, I started incorporating visual elements in our Intermediate concert series, which are for grades 4-6.

To prepare for the concert, the students listened to the music and created artwork and poetry based on how they felt inspired by the music. During the concert, their creations were projected onstage behind the orchestra. It's fun for the kids and a great way to get them more engaged in the music!

What is your favorite type of music?

My favorite classical composers are Bach and Mozart, but definitely Bach. If I’m just driving in my car, I like to listen to top 40s. I love pop music.

What concert are you most looking forward to for the RPO’s 2015-16 season and WHY?
Maybe From the Top just because I always wanted to do that as a kid. I never submitted for it, but I always listened to it as a kid and I just thought it was the coolest thing.

Either that or Disney in Concert, because those are songs I grew up listening to. There’s something about bringing back childhood memories that is appealing to me.

Favorite summer activity: reading

Barbara creates and runs pre-concert activities at RPO OrKIDStra concerts!

About the author: Elissa Murphy is the RPO's marketing/development summer intern.
Anticipated for August 2015, Elissa will be receiving her bachelor’s degree in music business and flute performance, with a film studies minor from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam.

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