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A marriage of hearts and music

April 17, 2008|By KATE COLEMAN

Scott and Catherine Nelson met at an audition for the Canton (Ohio) Symphony. They dated for four months, got engaged and were married four months later.

After 31 years, they still make beautiful music together.

They taught in Ohio public schools and played together in the Akron and Canton, Ohio, symphonies. They earned master's degrees -- Catherine in music education, Scott in trumpet performance -- at College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. Scott continued at CCM and earned a doctorate in conducting.

They came East in 1987 for Scott's job at Shenandoah University. They became members of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra the same year.

"It's a wonderful experience," Scott said. "It's like playing with your family."

Another pleasure of the MSO is appreciation by audiences and the support of the board of directors and the Symphony Guild, Catherine added.

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How long have you been playing your instrument? When did you start? Why?

CN: I started when I was 8 years old. I came home from school, and there was a violin case on my bed. My mother loved the violin, had a friend who could teach it, and she decided that I needed to play the violin.

SN: I started trumpet in fourth grade, but it was too hard to play. I played a baritone horn. When I got to sixth grade, I switched back to trumpet. My father was a high school band director for 30 years, so it was part of the family.

Do you play with other musical ensembles?

CN: We play with Central Florida Symphony Orchestra in Ocala.

SN: We're both freelancers. We play with the Mercersburg (Area Community Chorus) orchestra.

We play with the Shenandoah Performs Orchestra in the summertime for two weeks. I play with the Shenandoah University Faculty Brass Quintet.

How much time do you spend preparing for each performance?

CN: They give you the music a couple weeks ahead of time, and you just go after it.

SN: The practice for the symphony concert is dependent upon the music. You spend however much time it takes for you to get it right.

Do you practice every day? How long?

CN: I'm spending several hours with that instrument a day. (You) practice till you get it right.

SN: Absolutely. I probably spend at least four hours on my instrument every day. I'm playing with my students when I'm teaching.

Do you have a day job?

CN: I teach violin and viola. I have one cello student. I teach them privately through the Arts Academy at Shenandoah University. I conduct the Youth Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra at Shenandoah.

SN: I am a full professor at Shenandoah University. I'm one of three trumpet teachers, and I teach conducting. I'm the Wind Ensemble director for the last 21 years.

Compare playing in the MSO and under Elizabeth Schulze's baton to playing with other orchestras and conductors.

SN: We do it because we love it. We love the people, and we respect Elizabeth's abilities. I feel a little bit like she has learned how to drive -- like we're a new car. When you buy a new car, you've gotta get a little bit used to how the thing works, and she has learned to drive this orchestra very well.

CN: It's just wonderful to get to create music and be passionate about it and get to play with other people that are passionate.

Who's your favorite composer? Do you have a favorite composition?

CN: My favorite is Dvorak probably because I had the privilege of being in the Ohio All-State Orchestra in high school and we played Dvorak's Symphony No. 8 -- the first real symphony that I got to experience.

SN: I really like Mahler symphonies.

What kinds of music do you listen to in your leisure time? What's the last CD you bought?

CN: I really like to listen to Contemporary Christian music. The last CD I bought was by Ralph Vaughn Williams. It's called "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis."

SN: I love jazz. I bought a Sean Jones CD.

What's your favorite "nonclassical" piece of music?

CN: I like Michael W. Smith.

SN: I really like the group Fourplay.

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