July 29, 2016

Principal Music Librarian Kim Hartquist Celebrates 20 Years at RPO

Kim Hartquist in the RPO library
Principal Music Librarian Kim Hartquist celebrated her 20-year anniversary at the RPO on Friday, July 22. A Rochester native, Hartquist joined the RPO in 1996 after a short time teaching music education following her graduation from SUNY Fredonia, where she also majored in bass trombone.

 “I should have realized my career path in the seventh grade when I was helping the band director sort and file music,” said Hartquist, “not to mention being orchestra librarian and manager for SUNY Fredonia’s Philharmonic Orchestra. Little did I know!”

Hartquist’s first connections to the RPO came when she worked as a music copyist for Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik. When the RPO's music librarian position became vacant two years later, Tyzik recommended Hartquist for the role.

“The most complex part of the job is getting folders [with sheet music] ready for musicians to pick up two weeks ahead of each concert,” said Hartquist. “Some shows have three pieces, some have 25 or more. All has to be ordered, marked, and collated in advance. Everything becomes an overlapping process happening at the same time for many different shows. It’s an organizational nightmare--or a puzzle challenge depending on how you look at it!”

While modern advancements in technology have made Hartquist’s work more manageable, she insists that the more things change, the more things seem to stay the same.

“In many ways, the main library of the orchestra has not changed with technology,” said Hartquist. “The engraved pieces of music with handwritten notations from each player remain the center of what we use, as it has been for hundreds of years.”

While today’s engraved pieces of music are created using special computer software, the term originates from the early days of the printing press when sheet music was typeset using engraving plates. Prior to that, scores were completely handwritten and could not be reproduced. Additionally, the Internet has streamlined many aspects of music librarianship. 

“Research scores can easily be found online,” said Hartquist. “PDF's of a missing or revised part can be sent via email and printed in minutes and blogs with other music librarians make finding the answer to an obscure question pretty quick. Still, with all of this technology, the pencil, eraser, and tape remain the most important tools on my desk!”

Outside of the RPO, Hartquist has no shortage of outdoorsy interests. Her love of birdwatching, or birding for short, takes her all over Western New York’s countless parks and hiking trails. Hartquist also loves camping in the Adirondacks and horseback riding in Yellowstone, two of her favorite vacation spots. In the past several years, Hartquist has traveled to Costa Rica, New Zealand, and Africa. While she’s currently planning a trip to the Galapagos, Hartquist often finds the best place to take a break from the office is actually much closer than you might expect.

“Every now and then I’ll sit in the house of the Eastman Theatre during rehearsal and look around at the beauty of this historic hall while listening to everything from a Beethoven Symphony to Star Wars, said Hartquist. “I am just as honored to be a part of this orchestra and one of George Eastman’s legacies as the first day I started, 20 years ago.”

Written by Alexander Jones, a recent graduate of RIT's journalism program and current marketing and communications intern at the RPO.

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