Musical Whitties find fresh avenues for expression through Walla Walla Symphony

Mallory Martin

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Whitman College is known for providing opportunities and outlets that both fulfill and push its students’ passions beyond the boundaries of the college itself. One such opportunity can be found in the Walla Walla Symphony, marketed as the “oldest continuously operating symphony west of the Mississippi.” The 104-year old orchestra performs at Whitman’s Cordiner Hall and has long drawn on some of the college’s own students, including current seniors Robin Miller and Rebecca Young and first-year Ryan Jacobsen.

For cellist, Miller and violinists, Young and Jacobsen, the group provides a personal as well as an educational outlet that goes beyond Whitman’s music department.

“The repertoire that is feasible for the Whitman Symphony is somewhat limited by what players we have,” said Young, a sociology major, a who has been performing with the orchestra since her sophomore year. “Since the Walla Walla Symphony is professional, I get to play some really huge, amazing pieces that I wouldn’t get to otherwise. Also, the chance to play with professional musicians is unique, and I like how it challenges me to play my absolute best.”

“I think that Whitman College has an excellent music program as far as the individual basis goes, but not necessarily as far as the ensembles go,” agreed Jacobsen, a music major who joined the symphony last semester. “For anyone looking for a big orchestral experience, which Whitman doesn’t have, the [Walla Walla] Symphony is a great alternative.”

Student positions with the symphony are paid and require an audition with a short piece of music and some sight reading. The participants agreed that involvement could be time-consuming, but that it was well worth it for the love of music. Miller, Jacobsen and Young have been playing their instruments for seven, 12 and 18 years, respectively.

“I just like playing music,” said Miller, a science and economics double major,  who’s played with the symphony since her first year at Whitman. “It’s relaxing and exciting at the same time. It’s kind of therapeutic.”

Although none of the three intend to pursue music as a career, they all agree that playing with the symphony has been an important and an enhancing experience.

“I’m about to graduate, and I’m not sure whether I’ll have the opportunity to play with an orchestra again anytime soon,” said Miller. “Playing with the Walla Walla Symphony is an experience that I treasure. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity.”

Students interested in applying for the Walla Walla Symphony should inquire with Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Jeremy Mims or Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music Amy Dodds. Those interested in supporting their fellow students and attending symphony performances should check out the groups website at www.wwsymphony.org.