Carmel Musicians liven up the ISO

Rebecca Price Arrensen, Konstantin Umansky, Brian Smith, Jack Brennan, Sharon Possick-Lange, Hua jin, Jayna Park, Michelle Kang

Rebecca Price Arrensen, Konstantin Umansky, Brian Smith, Jack Brennan, Sharon Possick-Lange, Hua jin, Jayna Park, Michelle Kang

The 74 musicians that comprise the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (ISO) hail from across the nation and internationally with 11 of them residing in Carmel. Each musician adds to the diversity of the city, shares the common love of music and was drawn to the family-friendly northern suburb for its lifestyle offerings.

Rebecca Price Arrensen has played flute and piccolo with the ISO for 31 years and has witnessed the symphony and the city of Carmel blossom. “I’ve taken auditions all over the country, but Carmel is such a great place to raise a family,” said Arrensen, who has lived in the same neighborhood for 13 years. “I’ve seen the symphony and the subdivisions grow and change over the years and get better with age.”

German conductor Ferdinand Schaefer founded the ISO in 1930 as a volunteer symphony which evolved into a professional ensemble by 1937 and is recognized today as one of the nation’s best orchestras.

According to Jessica DiSanto, ISO Director of Communications, “The audition process is a rigorous

Konstantin Umansky, Principal Second Violin

procedure with many steps. We can easily receive hundreds of applications for one open position. Candidates pay their own way to travel here to audition. Auditioning is a completely anonymous process where candidates walk out on stage behind an enormous curtain. The stage is carpeted, so that we don’t hear the candidate’s footsteps.”

Married couple Jayna Park and Brian Smith moved from the East Coast when Park was selected for position as a violinist. She started playing with the ISO just days prior to September 11, 2001. “I remember it being unbelievable. We were playing a pops concert which is supposed to be fun and lighthearted, and I noticed that the music was bringing everyone together. On stage and in the audience in the midst of the tragedy, it was a bonding and uniting moment.”

They chose to live in Carmel because of its quality schools, dedication to the arts and the influence of a variety of cultures. Brian, who plays bass, joined the orchestra in 2008 and is American while Park is a native of Korea. “The city is very multicultural, and I feel very comfortable and at home in Carmel,” says Park.

“We chose Carmel because of the schools too, but we don’t have children yet,” said Michelle Kang, a young native of Korea, violinist and recent newlywed.


Sharon Possick-Lange, a 29-year ISO veteran, practices oboe during rehearsal.

Sharon Possick-Lange, a 29-year ISO veteran, practices oboe during rehearsal.

Sharon Possick Lange, a 29-year veteran oboist, agrees that the school system was a tremendous draw for her family. She has three sons who graduated from Carmel High School, and her daughter will graduate in 2014. Lange has enjoyed watching the development of the arts. “The Palladium has given the community an opportunity to hear groups it would never have access to experiencing,” she said.

Despite the financial woes that frustrated the Circle City Orchestra, musicians are committed to making music and entertaining. “We took a substantial pay cut to keep the music alive, but we want to make sure there are jobs for the kids coming in,” said Arrensen.

“It doesn’t matter what music you listen to, there is nothing on this planet like live music,” said Arrrensen. “I think our society is so used to the canned music that we forget it is there. At the symphony, you are a part of the music that is happening right now. You are part of history.”

In March, the ISO welcomed new CEO Gary Ginstling who moved his family from Cleveland to Carmel. “Although our home base is in downtown Indianapolis at the Hilbert Circle Theatre, the ISO is dedicated to reaching as many communities as possible each season – and Carmel is definitely a part of that plan. Whether its concerts at the Palladium or collaborations with local schools and other groups, the ISO will be casting a wider net for audience development with every season.”

Holiday Concerts:
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
Duke Energy Yuletide Celebration
December 6-23 at The Hilbert Theatre

Carmel Symphony Orchestra
Holiday with Five by Design
December 14 – 3 pm and 7:30 pm at The Palladium

Carmel High School Holiday Spectacular
December 4-8, 2 pm and 7 pm at Carmel High School

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This article was written by stephaniecurtis

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