Violin in musical theater live orchestra


Violinist at the College Light Opera Company 

An educational experience which has shaped me into a better person, was playing violin in the pit orchestra at the College Light Opera Company.  The College Light Opera Company, CLOC–still running today–is a live musical theater company in West Falmouth, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in the US. It continues to operate with the delightful accompaniment of a live orchestra, which is where I met lifelong friends and performed nine shows each summer over the ten-week season. This included the good fortune to have had the tech expert and fine musician David Pogue as conductor for one of the shows. In an intense summer of musicals, aspiring Broadway or opera performers receive training and performance experience under the guidance of the musical theater directors. The company all lives together for the summer at an inn near the ocean, where the duties of maintenance and meals together are shared. The orchestra had Sundays off so we often would go into the town and sing songs with each other at a live piano bar or swim in the sea. One time I ate an ice-cream cone instead of having dinner. I recall a moonlit swim, friends driving down from Boston to come visit and lay on the beach, and many nights laying under the stars dreaming about life and imagining ideas with friends.  

Living at the inn was also first rate, even if the accommodations were shared. After lunch I took naps almost every day while a gentle sea breeze wafted over me like butterfly kisses. A special treat, maybe not for everyone but I enjoyed it, was the outdoor shower.  This was still the time before smartphones were ubiquitous, and internet was hard to come by, so it was an extremely peaceful existence. 

Sadly, the fabulous cellist Nadia Seiler, passed away in a tragic accident, far before her time. I mention her specifically because she was a good friend and wonderful cellist who we all miss dearly. We had played one of the Mozart flute quartets together in the ritual community chamber music concert, also a very meaningful event for all.   

This company would not have come into existence, nor would it have flourished as it does, without the dedication and spirit of its founders, Bob and Ursula Haslun, toward whom I feel an immense sense of gratitude. I would also like to remember and honor Bob, who also recently passed, for his lifelong dedication to music, giving this gift to many generations through his work at CLOC.  

During one of the summers, I was going through a very painful personal crisis, and I remember a distraught and tearful conversation I had with Ursula and B, who kindly listened and were there for me when I really needed someone. The theater, the music, the shows, the friendship, the sea; all of these helped me endure the terrible agony of a marriage that was doomed to fail.  

I am writing about CLOC as a personal reflection, because I am still very much in love with its purpose, its organisation, its dedication to people and bringing music to life. It is rare to find an orchestra providing the accompaniment to professional or semi-professional musical theater, so this is a cultural icon which has touched many generations, and it continues to do so. If you teach college musicians, you just might encourage them to audition for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.  


Do you write about things that you cherish? If so, let me know about it. xx


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