November 29, 2012 in City

Spokane Symphony musicians’ lives busy, varied

Skills run deep in musician poll
By The Spokesman-Review

Cellist Roberta Bottelli has several jobs.

The foundation of her livelihood comes from her position as one of the Spokane Symphony’s core musicians, who made $17,460 a year under the latest contract. She earns the other 40 to 45 percent of her income through a combination of private lessons and teaching jobs at Whitworth University and Holy Names Music Center.

“It’s definitely a juggling act,” she said. “My schedule is really complex. It’s totally worth it, but it’s definitely challenging.”

Bottelli, the symphony’s third-chair cello, comes from a family of musicians and has played music since the age of 3. While there isn’t an education requirement to join the symphony, Bottelli has a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees. She’s also on the cusp of completing a doctor of musical arts degree at the University of British Columbia.

Her instrument, a cello made in France in 1882, is worth $30,000, the bow another $8,500 – “and that’s really on the low end of stringed instruments on the professional level.”

“I feel so lucky I get to play this work of art every day,” she said. “It’s an amazing piece of equipment.”

In all, she spends at least eight to 10 hours a day playing.

Bottelli isn’t unique among the symphony’s musicians. In an effort to gain public support, the musicians released the results of a September survey that shows the background of a typical Spokane Symphony musician.

According to the survey, the average musician:

• Teaches private lessons, coaches music at local schools, and is most likely a professor or adjunct professor at a local university.

• Has been a musician in the Spokane Symphony for 16 years.

• Has studied their instrument for 34 years.

• Came from one of 17 different states or four countries to be a member of the symphony.

• Has a bachelor’s degree and most likely a master’s degree in music.

• Plays an instrument worth $33,600.

• Connects with more than 100 people a week as a professional musician in Spokane.

• Works about 46 hours a week as a professional musician.

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