Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School - Aline Benoit (Clarinet)

Aline Benoit (Clarinet)

Where did you grow up? I grew up in western New York State near Rochester, in the village of Churchville. My parents were transplanted New Englanders and Churchville was as close as they could come to a New England village.

Where do you live now? In Waban, MA, a village of Newton—8 miles from Boston.

Educational Background: Bachelor of Music degree and the Performer’s Certificate in Clarinet from the Eastman School of Music, where I was a student of Stanley Hasty. I also have a Master’s Degree in Holistic Counseling Psychology from Lesley University, and recently completed the teacher’s practicum in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society at the University of Mass. Medical School in Worcester, MA.

Personal info (family, kids, pets, etc.) My husband, Marty Burlingame, also graduated from Eastman and is the Principal Librarian of the BSO. We have one son, Brendan, who recently graduated from Boston College and currently lives in Manhattan. In addition, we have an eccentric Toy Fox Terrier named Yoshi, and a petite, shy black cat named Sepher.

How did you get started in music? My older brother started clarinet in the 4th grade. I wanted to do whatever he did, so I followed suit. He quit after one year….I kept going.

When did you join the Rhode Island Philharmonic? I first joined the Philharmonic during the music directorship of Alvaro Cassuto. Frank Marinaccio was the Principal Clarinetist at that time. Schedule conflicts forced me to quit two years later so I could attend graduate school. Dave Martins, a friend and colleague from Eastman, won the position. In 2009, when Dave announced his retirement, I auditioned for my old job and won! I am delighted to be a member again. The orchestra has become a superb ensemble.

What are your non-RIPO musical activities?
For the past thirteen years I have played Second and E-flat Clarinet with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra. As a freelancer I’ve played with the BSO, Boston Pops, Boston Classical Orchestra, Emmanuel Music, the Chamber Orchestra of Boston, among others. In recent seasons, the St. Louis Symphony has invited me to be a guest substitute on E-flat clarinet for two Shostakovich symphonies.

What is the question you’re asked most often when you tell people you play with the RIPO?
“Isn’t that a long commute?” to which I reply, “It’s worth the trip; the orchestra is terrific and Providence is a gem of a city!”

What is your favorite RIPO memory to date?
I think the RIPO wind section is first-class, and Larry’s leadership fosters a feeling of mutual collaboration. Playing the Schubert Unfinished last year epitomized one of the many things I love about this orchestra—it felt like chamber music! There was a sense of everyone being acutely aware of our interaction. Being a second player, I feel that my job is to blend and balance. All of the principals and seconds in this orchestra are strong “team players. I’m proud of those times when everything seems right and we create a special experience for the audience and ourselves.

Do you teach? If so, where?
I’m on the Faculty of the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, MA. where I teach in the Mind/Body Program. I have had a life-long interest in holistic health, and musician wellness in particular. I teach a course entitled “Achieving Your Personal Best: A Mind/Body Approach to Performance Preparation.” It’s an experiential course where the students explore the mental and physical aspects of performance. The Longy students are impressive—their depth of insight makes the course very powerful. I also teach clarinet in my private studio.

What are your non-musical hobbies?
For many years, my husband and I had a J30, which we sailed all around coastal New England. Newport and Block Island were two of our favorite destinations. We even sailed it up the Erie Canal into the Great Lakes and one year, to Bermuda and back! Now I have a kayak and am enjoying exploring the rivers and marshes of New England. I’m a runner and love being outdoors, hiking and gardening. When I can’t be outside, I’m an art lover and make it a point to visit the art museums wherever I travel.

Who or what has been your greatest influence, musical or otherwise?
Unquestionably my father has been my greatest influence and inspiration, even though he wasn’t a musician. He was a manufacturing engineer for General Electric and had an almost child-like curiosity about the world. He always had a sense of wonder and appreciation for things and took great pleasure in sharing whatever he loved: food, a fascinating bit of information, a passage from a book. I know that desire to share is in part what inspired me to have a career in music. My earliest musical impulses were to share the magic of live music. I remember in elementary school, I couldn’t wait to play concerts. I was so excited for people to hear the music. At the Eastman school, when we played Capriccio Espagnol or some other great orchestral work, I couldn’t wait for my friends and family to hear it. Sharing was the source of my father’s “joie de vivre” and it fuels my own passion as a teacher and performer.

What is your favorite music? What are you currently listening to?
Classical music is my favorite and I like to immerse myself in whatever we’re playing in RIPO. We play such fine repertoire here! As a child, I grew up listening to Broadway shows and the Great American Song Book, and I enjoy playing this music too. My husband has introduced me to the incredible variety of jazz, as well as the world of keyboard and choral works—so, in truth, my musical taste is fairly broad. My son, who was a DJ on his college radio station for five years, keeps me peripherally aware of some of the unusual trends in popular music. While I don’t necessarily enjoy his choices, I always appreciate hearing what he is playing—it gives me perspective!

What/where do you like to eat in the Providence area?
There are many wonderful restaurants in Providence, but when playing in the RIPO I love to eat at the restaurant in Nordstrom’s. The food is so fresh and beautifully prepared, and there is a great view from the dining room. It’s just across the street from VMA, so it couldn’t be more convenient. It’s a treat I look forward to on the days we have double rehearsals.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
The city of Providence and the RIPO have undergone an amazing transformation since I first came to New England. I feel blessed to be able to work with such fine colleagues. The level of playing, the enthusiastic audiences and Larry’s intelligent, inspiring manner all combine to make this a most satisfying musical experience.

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