Reflections from 5HE's Newest Member, Valerie


This post was written by 5HE's newest ensemble member, horn player Valerie Whitney.  Val has been with us since November, and we've loved having her around!  Read her post below for a peek inside her brain on her first few months with 5HE, as well as to get a couple preview images from our upcoming Luna de Cuernos performances!   val eblast compressedAs the newest member of the Fifth House roster, I thought I’d take the opportunity to say hello to the 5HE community that exists in cyberspace!

I’ve lived in Chicagoland for over ten years now, and had heard the name “Fifth House” tossed around here and there, but never took the time to get to know the group beyond being familiar with the name.

My loss.

The people that make up this organization are not only some of the most talented people I’ve ever met, but they are also easily among the most dedicated I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. And when you go through six years of music school (and start in on an additional 2-5 years for that illustrious degree they call a “doctorate”, as I have found myself doing…another story for another time…), you get to know a lot of smart, talented and dedicated people. I’m talking EVERYONE - from management and directors and board to us musicians.

One of the things I admire the most about my colleagues at Fifth House is that they will work as many hours as are needed for the sake of the best product, without regard as to whether their paycheck reflects the time spent. How many people do you know who are that convinced about what they do?? These people are committed to excellence. There have been many, many times in rehearsals when we will work on a passage, and I will think “that sounds great –hooray! Let’s move on!” and someone else in the group will say “that’s still not perfect – let’s try it again”.  My colleagues here inspire me to practice…and for someone who has never loved practicing (yes, there are some musicians who weirdly would rather avoid the practice room, like me) that’s saying something!

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(Aside: Here is an unabashed plug to say that if you want to hear just HOW hard we’ve been practicing, check out our Luna de Cuernos concerts in May! You’ll get to hear Merideth turn her oboe into a schaum, and Jenny and Melissa accomplish the sheer technical feat that is Miguel del Aguila’s  Wind Quintet, all setting the stage for Sarah Becan’s incredible artwork. Don’t miss this one.)

Of course, Fifth House has a (well-earned) reputation for not only being outstanding and innovative performers, but also for the work that they do in education. This is one of the things I like most about this group – we don’t just go into a school to present concerts, introduce the instrument families and leave; we go to develop relationships with the teachers and students, and give them exposure to classical music that will benefit them in practical ways, beyond simply the momentary gratification.

In addition to all that – these people just plain love to have good fun. If you’ve ever been to a Fifth House event, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, there are lots of opportunities to come witness [ahem, insert next plug for upcoming Luna performances.]

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So here is where I stop referring to Fifth House in the third-person, and say I am so excited to be a part of this group, and I am so looking forward to what’s ahead!