Finding the Violin
Classical music filled the rooms of Geoffrey Hill’s childhood home. That exposure made participating in music a natural choice. Fortunately for young Geoffrey, his grandpa was a public-school music teacher, and spare instruments often took up residence in his grandad’s house. Sixth grade brought Geoff the opportunity to choose an instrument and participate in the school’s music program. Geoff remembers considering his options, but he vacillated between the flute and the violin. As a sixth grader, he wanted to “make stuff” with his hands as well as make music with an instrument. A flute could be a part of either band or orchestra, but band met at the same time as shop class. If he chose violin, he could both take a wood shop class and be in the orchestra, thereby having his proverbial cake and eating it, too. No flutes were among the family collection, but his mother’s violin was available. That became his instrument of choice, and he joined the orchestra.
Geoff feels fortunate that he lived in Portland, a city with numerous opportunities for musically oriented kids eager to participate in something big, like a youth orchestra. As a teen, he became part of one of those orchestras and loved it. In reflection, he says, “We got to play some really great stuff by composers like Sibelius and Rachmaninoff, and we were able to make it sound good. And it was there that I learned playing with music-oriented peers could be a social thing as well.”
Getting to Idaho
Just as he had not envisioned himself playing the violin when he first considered an instrument, he never envisioned himself attending college in Idaho. That changed when he heard the Langroise Trio and had a trial lesson with Geoffrey Trabichoff, one of the members of the trio and then Concert Master of the Boise Philharmonic. The trio was on a College of Idaho scouting mission in Oregon and performed for Geoff’s youth orchestra. He enjoyed the trial lesson so much that he applied to the College of Idaho where Trabichoff was teaching. Once accepted as a student, he traded the lush green of Portland for this region’s rolling and often brown foothills. That aspect of Idaho jolted him, but the college and his musical studies made up for the landscape’s deficit of green.
Orchestras it seems are Geoff’s destiny. While still studying at the College of Idaho, he auditioned for a position in the Boise Philharmonic and won a temporary spot for a year. In 2012, he began playing with the Boise Baroque Orchestra. He also auditioned and won a permanent position with the Philharmonic, becoming principal second violin.
Falling in Love & Building a Life
Ellie McKinnon is a fan of the orchestra and a dog lover. She served as founding director of Boise State’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Currently she is a freelance writer and offers memoir writing workshops.