Meet the Musicians!
By Ellie McKinnon
Jennifer on Mount Kilimanjaro
Jennifer Drake enjoys life, whether she is on an African Safari or preparing for an upcoming Boise Baroque Orchestra Performance. "What she likes best," she says, "is what she is working on at the moment." And in non-COVID times, she focuses much of her seemingly boundless energy and enthusiasm upon music, particularly classical music. That, as patrons know, includes the Boise Baroque Orchestra
When asked how her love of music developed, she points back to her 5th grade year in elementary school and to a specific teacher, Connie Dugger. Good teachers count, and Troy, Michigan has several, like Alan MacNair under whose baton she worked during high school. It was during those years that she began playing in a local semi- professional orchestra and developed a love for symphonic music. She would eventually become a viola performance major at Michigan State. And her early musical development would not only pay dividends for Jennifer, but dividends for the communities where she has chosen to put it to use. Many have and do benefit. Like her students in Saginaw Michigan. Like the Baroque, Philharmonic and Serenata Orchestras of Boise. Like her young music students in the Idaho Viola Camp in McCall, and the list goes on.
Then there are the kids--those involved in the Idaho Orchestra Institute that she and BBO Conductor Robert Franz co-direct, and the 175 young musicians in the Boise Philharmonic Youth Orchestra who are looking to release a CD in late December; and the Viola Summer Camp kids. Jennifer understands that teen years can be difficult, and that teens can benefit when allowed to express themselves in a safe environment. At the Viola Camp which she directs, all ability levels are honored as kids study music intensively, but mix their practicing with time canoeing, hiking, cooking, and enjoying campfire fun. Music is for everyone, Jen says. And apparently so is fun.
Working hard, setting goals and enjoying life seems to be part of Jennifer Drake. Goals are important of course, as are technical skills. And it took a lot of both for her to become the principal violist for the Fairbanks Summer Viola Festival and to perform in the 33rd International Viola Congress in Reykjavik, Iceland. But some goals, Jennifer claims, can be accomplished without technical skills—- like climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro which Jen and her husband Chad Marvin did in 2016. No technical skills? Really?
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.