Saville Bloxham '19 spent four years playing the viola for the Knox-Galesburg Symphony (KGS), where she was able to learn and play with professional musicians.
“Even though I had a lot less experience than almost everyone else in the orchestra, I never felt like I didn't belong there,” Bloxham said. “Whenever I needed advice or help with a piece, there was always someone who would be more than willing to help me out.”
Bloxham, an English Literature major, said that before she came to Knox, playing music as an actual source of income seemed impossible. "I didn't even want to try to find a way to do it. But being in the KGS showed me that there are so many different ways to make music a permanent part of my life.”
The Knox-Galesburg Symphony has received local, state, and national honors and recently named a new director, Vlad Vizireanu. He succeeds music director Bruce Polay, professor emeritus of music, who retired after 35 years directing the symphony.
Nikki Malley, KGS board member and director of jazz studies at Knox, was involved in the selection process for the new director. "I am walking away from this year-long process with a new appreciation for the community's love of and investment in the Knox-Galesburg Symphony," Malley said.
Alexis Kellogg '19 auditioned to play violin in the symphony during her first year as a Knox College student. By the end of her four years at Knox, she had completed a marketing internship and secured a job as marketing and operations coordinator at KGS.
“The most valuable thing I learned from working with the KGS was how much work, time, effort, and money is required to produce a successful performance,” Kellogg said. “This deeper understanding of what's required to produce a show has led me to be a significantly more grateful and passionate performer.”
Kellogg’s internship with KGS included proofreading press releases, organizing contacts, and stage-managing concerts. “Despite having performed all my life, I had never worked behind the scenes of a performance before. I was also grateful for the additional opportunity to get to know the staff and musicians of the KGS,” she said.
Playing with the Knox-Galesburg Symphony is one of many informal performance opportunities available to Knox students.
“This freedom to explore many interests has left me aware of the social and political implications of being a classical musician, and the need for greater gender, racial, and age diversity in my field,” Kellogg said. “As a marketing and operations coordinator for a classical symphony, I now have the ability to enact tangible change in this direction, and voice my opinions to co-workers in charge of programming and logistics.”
“In these ways, the flexibility and sociology embedded in my Knox education have had a huge impact on my professional, personal, and musical life,” she added.
(Photo above: Knox students perform with the Knox-Galesburg Symphony. Photo below: New KGS music director Vlad Vizireanu.)