Beth Hoffman is co-concertmaster of wcfsymphony. Completing her M.A. at the University of Iowa, Beth has held leadership positions in several orchestras and taught at the Preucil School of Music in Iowa City and Coe College. In addition to her role with wcfsymphony, Beth is associate concertmaster of the Muny Opera Orchestra in St. Louis and teaches violin as an adjunct faculty member at Kirkwood Community College.
“I started piano at age six and violin at 10. My piano teacher was a retired conservatory professor and outstanding, so I considered becoming a pianist. But when I was 16, I went to Interlochen Music Camp and was inspired to become a violinist instead. Although music won my heart I’ve considered pursuing careers in architecture, law, graphic design, and being a professional writer.
“The number one challenge of being a professional musician in the 21st century, in my opinion, is the advent and rise of the virtual internet experience. We just need to get people into the concert hall, because live music has a way of selling itself. Seeing the audience reaction to a performance is the most gratifying part of being a professional performer. Sometimes I sneak a peak during a performance. I also enjoy talking with audience members after a concert or show. The connection between people on both sides of the stage is what makes a performance so special – for everyone.
A memorable experience I had of that special connection between audience and performer is from a solo piano recital I attended. The recital took place next to a railroad track. In the middle of a slow, quiet piece, a very long train roared by. The pianist never stopped or reacted to the noise. We watched his careful and calm gestures, but heard nothing from the piano. The train finished just before the closing chords. It was stunning to see how much music could be conveyed just through gestures and stage presence alone. And, I think that the applause was louder than the train.
There is no such thing as a typical week in my professional life! My work week can include any of the following: teaching college lessons, a symphony orchestra concert, coaching string ensembles, teaching young children, theater pit orchestra work, or playing chamber music. When it comes to preparing for performances, pops concerts are easier due to my background in theater and studio music. On the other hand, classical concerts require more focused concentration at rehearsals and more hours of practice to prepare. I enjoy playing with wcfsymphony for 3 big reasons: a chance to learn from Jason, to perform with my talented colleagues, and the wonderful professional atmosphere created by the symphony staff.
My work load varies depending on the concert.