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The New York Philharmonic

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Sara Griffin

Sara Griffin joined the New York Philharmonic as Assistant Principal Librarian in September 2009. A native of Springfield, Missouri, Griffin earned a bachelor of music and a doctor of musical arts degree in oboe from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and a master in music degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Previous library associations have included positions with the National Symphony Orchestra, Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, and Kansas City Symphony. Other notable projects include music preparation for NASA’s 50th Anniversary celebration during the 2006 Smithsonian Folk Life Festival, and the 2009 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, featuring the world premiere of Stevie Wonder’s Sketches of a Life. Outside of the library, Griffin enjoys traveling, cooking, entertaining, and spending time with her husband, Jeremy, and son, Jack.

“When I learned how important office supplies were in the field of orchestra librarianship, I was officially hooked! Librarians can spend hours each day marking and correcting music, and I love experimenting with new pens and pencils.”

Q&A with Sara Griffin

THE FACTS: Born in Springfield, Missouri. Bachelor of music and doctor of musical arts in oboe from the University of Missouri– Kansas City; master’s in music, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Prior to the Philharmonic: associate librarian, National Symphony Orchestra; librarian, Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, Kansas City Symphony, and Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. At the Philharmonic: Joined September 2009.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR JOB? We prepare all of the printed material for the players: mark cuts, edits, and corrections to performance material; transfer bow markings; distribute music; and provide information to the staff and instrumentalists. Librarians use their musical eyes, ears, and brains when preparing parts so that the Orchestra can rehearse and perform at its best. Like our colleagues onstage, we are always perfecting our skills and gaining new knowledge.

HOW DID YOU BECOME A LIBRARIAN? My goal was to be an orchestral oboist. I was actively taking auditions on the oboe when fate intervened and I had the opportunity to work as an interim librarian at the Kansas City Symphony. As luck would have it, I found a career that I loved and a mentor who helped get me started.

YOU’RE A SELF-DESCRIBED “OFFICE SUPPLY NERD.” When I learned how important office supplies were in the field of orchestra librarianship, I was officially hooked! Librarians can spend hours each day marking and correcting music, and I love experimenting with new pens and pencils. The perfect diameter lead or thickness of pen tip can make a huge difference.

EARLIEST MUSICAL MEMORY: Playing an upright piano at my aunt and uncle’s farm. Other kids were playing outside, but I couldn’t stay away from the piano.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THE PHILHARMONIC’S 2017–18 SEASON? I truly enjoyed the Star Wars Film Concert Series: John Williams’s scores were my gateway into orchestral music as a young child. I am also very excited for Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin, one of the most important and beautiful works that prominently features the oboe.

WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER GOTTEN? When my husband and I were getting ready to leave the Midwest for my job with the National Symphony Orchestra, we called his grandfather for his thoughts about moving away from family. He told us that “in life, you have to be bold, daring, and unafraid.”

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR FREE TIME? My husband and I have a four-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter who keep us very busy. We love spending time outdoors together, especially at the shore. My husband and I met in junior high at band camp, and we’ve been together 25 years!

As of November 2017

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