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Performing Art
Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010 8 years ago

Duly noted

by: Heidi Kurpiela Contributing Writer

Unlike most libraries, Justin Vibbard and Paul Greitzer’s library inside the Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center is rarely quiet.

There’s usually the lush sound of cellos and bassoons drifting down the corridor and a 12-inch television set — the kind of dusty monitor you might see playing surveillance videos inside a 7-Eleven —broadcasting a live stream from inside the orchestra’s rehearsal room.

“If it’s really quiet for a long time, you know something’s up,” says Vibbard, 31, the principal librarian at Sarasota Orchestra. “We keep the television on during most rehearsals. That way if problems pop up, we can address them immediately.”

However, at this particular moment, the symphony center is eerily quiet and the library is commotion free. It’s a Monday morning after a weekend of performances, so most of the orchestra’s production department, including musicians, are off.

Vibbard and Greitzer are taking advantage of the solitude.

“You see that trunk over there?” Vibbard asks, pointing to an enormous chest sitting beside a shelf holding four weeks’ worth of performance music. “It has wheels. It travels with the timpani and various percussion instruments. It’s how we move the music around.”

At a hightop counter, Greitzer, Vibbard’s assistant, is binding sheet music, taping and stapling the edges of time-worn sets for February’s “I’ll be Seeing You” program, a collection of Frank Sinatra favorites, including “Strangers in the Night” and “The Lady is a Tramp.”

Pulling apart the yellowed pages of notes, Greitzer, a 28-year-old Los Angeles native with a master’s degree in library science, explains how sewing the pages together with a needle and thread works better than tape and staples. The music lies flatter on the stand. It doesn’t bulge at the seam. And it makes less noise when you a turn a page.

The work seems tedious until you consider some of Greitzer and Vibbard’s other responsibilities, which mostly are tied to the preparing of sheet music, an exacting task that includes fixing wrong notes, darkening faded notes, adding missing notes, penciling in measures of rest and marking string parts.

“It’s not lucrative for publishers to fix all the little mistakes in the music,” says Vibbard, who refrains from using the word “edit” when describing his job. “We’re more focused on getting the performance to work. An editor is scholastic. We’re just correcting parts.”

A New Mexico native who got his start by apprenticing at the Chicago Symphony and later the Omaha Symphony, Vibbard joined the Sarasota Orchestra staff in 2004.

Much like landing a job as a musician, orchestra librarian positions are just as competitive. When Greitzer was hired in 2008, he was among seven finalists up for job.

Both men are skilled musicians, though neither one plays much anymore. Greitzer has a bachelor’s degree in oboe performance and played in wind ensembles at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Vibbard is a trombone-player-turned-guitarist, who just recently started strumming bluegrass music for fun on the weekends.

“I found it difficult to maintain the instrument and continue with this career,” says Vibbard, whose job also requires him to work with the orchestra’s personnel department in finding the right instruments for each composition. “I’m happy in this situation. It’s high pressure without the spotlight.”

Contact Heidi Kurpiela at [email protected]


• There are more than 2,500 orchestral sets in the Sarasota Orchestra library and more than 700 sets in the youth orchestra library.
• Wondering how string players bow in unison? Paul Greitzer and Justin Vibbard make that possible by “bowing,” or marking the sheet music with specific notations.
• According to Vibbard and Greitzer, tuba and trombone parts require the least maintenance. Harp parts, however, always have to be corrected. “Composers don’t know how to write for harps,” Vibbard says. “The page turns never work.”
• Vibbard and Greitzer will sometimes spend two to three days marking the string scores for one performance.
• Although Sarasota Orchestra does implement computerized engraving software, many scoring changes are still done by hand.
• Vibbard spends his summers working in New York City as a librarian with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra at Lincoln Center.

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