I’m Laura Reynolds, Boise Phil’s new executive director, and I’m excited to meet you!
When I drove a U-Haul out to Boise with my cats back in March, I was dreaming of a spring full of performances featuring our fabulous orchestra, master chorale and youth orchestra. But we all know what happened next.
During this period of navigating through a global pandemic and embracing a renewed movement for human rights in our country, the Boise Phil has been hard at work readying itself to share a season of music that aims to reflect our lives and the world in ways that will be more accessible than ever before.
While we put the finishing touches on our programming and get it ready to share with you all, we’re kicking off this weekly series Inside the Symphony to share more about the Boise Phil: who we are, what it’s like behind the scenes, our musical recommendations, and other thoughts about the business of an orchestra. More importantly, I want to engage in conversations with you – so if there’s a topic you want us to explore together, let me know!
As we get started, you might be wondering who I am, where I come from, and why I think the Boise Phil is the most awesome place to work. So today will be my introduction to you as we continue to practice our social distancing.
When did music become part of your life?
Music has been part of my life since before I can remember. Both my parents were musicians who met in marching band at Santa Monica College. My dad played French horn and my mom was a color guard but also played accordion in a Japanese accordion band.
Before reading words, I could read music. In elementary school I started singing in chorus and took some taiko drum lessons at my Buddhist temple. At age 10 the clarinet became my first instrument, but not for long – in band class I realized there were 16 other clarinets and just one other horn player. Being a competitive person, I realized that it would be much easier to become first chair playing the horn than playing the clarinet. It turned out to be a decision that would set the course of my life and my career in music.
Where did you go to school?
I’ve had the opportunity to study the French horn with legendary musicians both at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music and also at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. During college I was in a French horn quartet that organized community engagement concerts at shelters, hospitals and in schools – which helped me see the ways that music can bring people and ideas together to have a positive impact on the community.
Where did you work before the Boise Phil?
Prior to joining the Boise Phil in March 2020, I was the Vice President of Education & Community Engagement at the Seattle Symphony where I built community programs like the Simple Gifts initiative which addresses the region’s homelessness crisis through artmaking and service projects. I also led the development of Seattle Symphony and Benaroya Hall’s newest venue Octave 9: Raisbeck Music Center, a $6.7 million capital project, which explored the future of music through the intersection of technology, art and community engagement. In addition to my work at the Seattle Symphony, I have served on the boards of Compass Housing Alliance and WindSync and also served as co-chair of the League of American Orchestras’ Education & Community Engagement leadership committee.
What’s your vision for the future of the Boise Phil?
The Boise Phil is already an incredible organization, thanks in large part to the community here in Boise that clearly values the arts. The team of staff, musicians, and board are some of the most creative and talented people in the industry right now – and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to be part of this organization.
The last few months have been tough and we’re still in the midst of the viral pandemic that changed life for all of us. I believe orchestras exist to reflect our time, our place, and our local communities, which feels especially important in this moment. As we are beginning to imagine what the future looks like for the Boise Phil there are some important questions that I’m asking myself: How can the Boise Phil become an active participant in civic life?
In what ways can music uniquely interpret our experience of the past year and help us heal and memorialize this important time? What intersections between art and technology will help us amplify the voices of our community? How can we create love tsunamis in our community through music and service?
What do you do when you’re not working?
I love to travel, explore new restaurants and try new recipes, spoil my cats, and ride bikes with my wife. Last summer we took an epic trip to Europe to see the Grand Depart of the Tour de France and spent a day riding our bikes from Amsterdam to The Hague.
Locally, I’m always on the lookout for scenic bike trails and sour beers. As a newbie to Boise, I welcome your recommendations!