What is the Peabody String Sinfonia?
The Peabody String Sinfonia is a collaborative, conductor-less string orchestra whose mission is to bring healing and beauty to people in the Baltimore community who are in situations or in places where they cannot easily gain access to live music, including cancer treatment, incarceration, homelessness, hospitalization, addiction, and hunger.
What is Our History and Where are We Headed?
Sinfonia was founded in the fall of 2016 by chamber faculty member Maria Lambros using the Dean’s incentive grant. After a year of mentoring the ensemble, she passed it on to student leadership and it has been led by students ever since. Although students will continue to hold main leadership roles, this year we are welcoming Violin Prof. Judith Ingolfsson as the Sinfonia Faculty Mentor. She will be helping with the artistic leadership of Sinfonia, including listening to auditions, helping in rehearsals, and giving regular coachings.
What Do We Do?
The goal of Sinfonia is to connect with audiences and share high quality music with those who do not have easy access to it. We perform for people in challenging situations including cancer treatment, incarceration, homelessness, addiction, and hunger. However, we do not see ourselves as an outreach ensemble doing charity work, but instead focus on the idea of “Creating Kinship” because these concerts with Sinfonia are really about connecting with individuals through music. Our audiences change our lives just as much as we affect theirs. We always have a public concert in Peabody’s Griswold Hall in November to share with Peabody what we have been doing in the Baltimore community. These concerts are always so much fun because we bring our special Sinfonia energy that we have been building all semester to Peabody and it results in a sense of vitality that is unique from other concerts.
When Do We Meet?
We meet Thursday and Sunday evenings from 7:00-9:00pm and our season usually runs from September to late November and in the Spring from late March through April.
Are We a Volunteer Ensemble?
Sinfonia does not offer any academic credit or monetary compensation for its musicians; however, this is one of the reasons that Sinfonia is so special. Because it is volunteer-based, it is a labor of love for everyone involved. This creates a special kind of energy in the group and a sense of kinship and camaraderie. Now that Professor Ingolfsson is involved as our Faculty Mentor, there is a strong educational benefit as well.
What opportunities are there for leadership?
Sinfonia uses a rotating seating system so everyone gets an opportunity to lead the ensemble. We operate a lot like a chamber ensemble, where everyone has an equal voice, and we work together to make decisions.
While rehearsing and performing in Sinfonia is strictly volunteer work, there are two Co-Director positions that offer compensation for administrative tasks. The Co-Directors work closely with LAUNCHPad and administrators to facilitate and support Sinfonia. Co-Directors are typically previous members of Sinfonia and show a high level of responsibility and dedication to Sinfonia‘s mission.
What are Sinfonia Concerts Like?
There is something so rewarding about the energy in Sinfonia concerts. That fourth wall between performer and audience is totally gone in our concerts partially because we talk to audiences in between pieces as well as before and after the concerts. This fosters such an incredible connection and energy between the performers and the audience. One of my favorite places that we play every year is Helping Up Mission, a rehabilitation center. Every time a Sinfonia member introduces themselves there, the audience members always say hi back.
What are Some Challenges and Rewards?
Sinfonia can definitely be challenging sometimes both in rehearsals and performance. It can be difficult to rehearse chamber music with such a big group and the alternative performance styles can take some getting used to. It is all worth it. I have learned so much about what it means to play chamber music and communicate with fellow musicians as well as audience members. I have experienced how much music can mean to people; Sinfonia audiences are some of the most appreciative that I’ve ever played for. I’ve also learned so much about what it means to be a human and communicate with other humans through Sinfonia. Sinfonia has shown me how music can bring people together.