OYS Champion: Columbus Symphony Orchestra welcomes community with "Fantasy Camp"

Fifty people from all walks of life get a chance to take notes from and play notes *with the orchestra's professional musicians. (WSYX/WTTE)

Think of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra's 'Side-by-Side' program as 'Philharmonic Fantasy Camp'.

A chance for 50 people from all walks of life, to take notes from and play notes *with the orchestra's professional musicians.

CSO Spokesperson Jeanie Stahler says, "we have bankers, there are I.T. people, there's college professors. They're all just community people. There are a few Columbus city school teachers as well."

Recently they gathered for the annual event at the Ohio Theater. There, the CSO's Music Director Rossin Milanov put them through their paces. The community members had already logged many hours of practice, to familiarize themselves with the five pieces they would be playing with the pros.

According to Stahler, "the musicians help them with just simple things, like fingering, or how to sit with their bodies or in particular, what to look at with music."

Nerve-wracking at first for some of the newcomers. But that hasn't kept violinist Monique Riccobelli from coming back four straight years.

Ricobbelli is matched with CSO violinist Joanna Frankel, sitting right up front.

Frankel feels it's very important to give musicians who have not made music their career, a chance to come out of the audience and feel the power and intimacy of the orchestra from the stage. and the two seem to be getting on famously. Frankel

She says, "people that play instruments have such a wonderful gift to share their music--and so my doing this together, we're able to really create something special together and really be fully integrated."

Amateur trumpeter Robert Schuler calls it, "the best seat in the house." He adds, "I think it's invaluable; it's fantastic. It gives me a new view of the professional instrumentalist."

If only for a few hours and a handful of songs, orchestra members and members of their community combine fantasy with reality, to make beautiful music together.

Jeanie Stahler says she hears it time and time again from the newcomers, "it's just so fabulous to be sitting in the middle of all that wonderful music. I mean, to have all those fabulous people playing around you--it's pretty incredible!"

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