Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Sunday, December 15, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 34° Partly Cloudy
News >  Spokane

Spokane Symphony musicians’ lives busy, varied

Skills run deep in musician poll

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.

Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter

Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.

You have been successfully subscribed!
There was a problem subscribing you to the newsletter. Double check your email and try again, or email