The Role of the Orchestra Librarian

Karen Schnackenberg of the Dallas Symphony has been a contributor to Polyphonic for many years. I’d like to pay tribute to her in this Editor’s Choice blog post.

The article I’m calling attention to was about librarians as copyists, and included some comments from my own librarian in the Hartford Symphony, Ron Krentzman. When should a librarian be called upon to be a copyist for the orchestra’s music? Is hand-copied music inferior to what can be produced digitally with Finale or Sibelius?

I love this quote, provided by Karen:  “One of the favorite phrases of our colleague Larry Tarlow, Principal Librarian of the New York Philharmonic, is, ‘The computer has turned a bad copyist with bad handwriting into a bad copyist with good handwriting.’ ”

Polyphonic has many other articles about the orchestra librarian. Try a few of these:

Who Is That Orchestra Librarian, by Karen Schnackenberg

Your Librarian and Your Orchestra: Just How Do the Players Get the Music? by Marcia Farabee

Errata and the Orchestra Librarian by Clinton Neweg and Jennifer Johnson

Training to Become an Orchestra Librarian by Karen Schnackenberg

A Glance Into the World of a Music Festival Orchestra Librarian  by Melissa Rogers

In most orchestras, your librarian is part of your collective bargaining unit. S/he is critical to your ability to function as an orchestral musician.

Get to know your librarian, appreciate what s/he does for you, and thank her/him for the enormous number of hours s/he puts in on your behalf. I hope these articles help to give a perspective on the amazing professionalism our orchestra librarians possess, and help make you realize how much we all benefit from their expertise.

About the author

Ann Drinan
Ann Drinan

Ann Drinan, Senior Editor, has been a member of the Hartford Symphony viola section for over 30 years. She is a former Chair of the Orchestra Committee, former member of the HSO Board, and has served on many HSO committees. She is also the Executive Director of CONCORA (CT Choral Artists), a professional chorus based in Hartford and New Britain, founded by Artistic Director Richard Coffey. Ann was a member of the Advisory Board of the Symphony Orchestra Institute (SOI), and was the HSO ROPA delegate for 14 years, serving as both Vice President and President of ROPA. In addition to playing the viola and running CONCORA, Ann is a professional writer and editor, and has worked as a consultant and technical writer for software companies in a wide variety of industries for over 3 decades. (She worked for the Yale Computer Science Department in the late 70s, and thus has been on the Internet, then called the DARPAnet, since 1977!) She is married to Algis Kaupas, a sound recordist, and lives a block from Long Island Sound in Branford CT. Together they create websites for musicians:

Ann holds a BA in Music from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and an MA in International Relations from Yale University.

Read Ann Drinan's blog here.

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