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Minnesota Orchestra musicians share their experience since graduating IU



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The IU Auditorium sits Jan. 9 in the Fine Arts Plaza. The Minnesota Orchestra will perform at 8 p.m. Jan. 22 in the IU Auditorium. Izzy Myszak

The Minnesota Orchestra assistant principal cellist Beth Rapier has always been a musical person. Now, almost 38 years after her IU graduation, she will return to IU as a part of the Minnesota Orchestra for a concert Wednesday night at 8 p.m. at the IU Auditorium with six fellow alumni in the ensemble. 

Rapier has spent her time dedicated to multiple musical and philanthropic efforts since graduating from IU in 1982. She's even married to Anthony Ross, the orchestra’s principal cellist.

“I actually came to (volunteering) well into my career, I would say,” Rapier said. “We felt so busy in our lives, you know, raising two kids and having full-time orchestra jobs.”

Rapier and her husband have coordinated benefit concerts for the American Refugee Committee and Habitat for Humanity. She said their philanthropic work enriches their busy lives and is supported by their fellow musicians.

“Our colleagues in the orchestra are incredibly generous people," Rapier said. "It’s super easy to get people to play for those events."

Rapier’s son also graduated from the IU Jacobs School of Music in 2014 with an undergraduate degree in trumpet performance. 

In addition to consistent practicing habits, Rapier recommended focusing on other studies while at school to help alleviate the stresses that many music students endure.

“The fact that there’s such a limited number of jobs in the musical field can make thinking about what’s going to happen after school really stressful,” Jacobs undergraduate student Sydney Ballensky said.

Erich Rieppel, the principal timpanist of the Minnesota Orchestra, graduated from IU in 2014 and said he had similar anxieties during his undergraduate studies.

“I thought the idea of getting a job was near impossible,” Rieppel said. “I’m obviously on the other side and I’ve realized that there are ways to win a job now. I think there’s a lot of mystery in what this career is and what it entails.”

Rieppel recommended visiting professional orchestra concerts whenever possible. While there are no professional orchestras in Bloomington, orchestras in cities such as Indianapolis, Chicago and Cleveland are within driving distance from IU. Rieppel visited these cities while he was studying.

Rapier, Rieppel and their peers will arrive at IU with the Minnesota Orchestra on Monday for their four-day scheduled residency. They will perform at 8 p.m. on Wednesday at the auditorium. Tickets for the event can be purchased at the auditorium box office or online at iuauditorium.com.

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