Dr. Jeffery Schoyen
have been a member of an orchestra in places such as New York,
Pittsburgh, Louisiana and Mexico. Where and what have been your
My fondest moments have been at Tanglewood [Music Center],
working under great artists like [Leonard] Bernstein, [Aaron]
Copland, [Kurt] Masur, [Seiji] Ozawa, and [André] Previn. I
remember the students there, of which I was one, wondering what
was in the two silver goblets that Bernstein had. We heard that
one was water and the other scotch! Who knows?
My wife, Sachiho Murasugi, who is a very accomplished violinist,
and I performed as principals of an orchestra in Mexico for a
season. The orchestra was called the Filarmonica del Bajio or
Orchestra of the flatlands.
We had a great time there. One time a woman in a shop who had
heard us at a concert came up and just gave us a cake! It was
such an act of kindness and generosity.
Other stories that I like to tell are about singers that I
worked with while playing in the Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra. [Luciano]
Pavarotti was such a personality, as was [Sherrill] Milnes. I
remember getting on an elevator with Milnes in it. He had on a
long fur coat which made him seem gigantic. He’s a big guy
anyway. And what a voice. I tell my students sometimes that when
these guys sing, you can actually see their backs and sides
bellow in and out.
As an assistant professor at Salisbury University and
the director of Salisbury Symphony Orchestra, how important do
you think music programs are in college students as well as
Music programs at all levels are of the utmost importance.
College students playing in my orchestra may or may not be music
majors, but they will probably play music for the rest of their
lives. They may be a future Arts supporter, maybe a board
member, or very possibly someone who uses their music experience
to be better at their chosen job. Music studies teach
responsibility, discipline, creativity and higher level
thinking, all things that the future work force will need. Music
keeps kids in school just like sports does. Just as many kids,
maybe more, study the arts in school as kids who play sports.
For me, music created ties to the world. Music involves history,
psychology, math, science, etc. As a kid I loved this. I read
books on Bach and books about Stradivari. I was totally hooked
at about age 11.
I hear you serve on the faculty of Blue Lake Fine Arts
Camp in Twin Lake, Mich., during the summer. What type of camp
is this and how has it personally impacted your life?
Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp is a neat place. I get a little rustic
cabin to stay in, and my family usually comes too. My daughter
loves it, staying the entire time, running around in the woods,
roasting marshmallows, etc. I teach cello during the day, and
play in the faculty orchestra in the afternoons. The people
there are very nice, and it’s run very well. All the kids wear
uniforms, and so does the faculty (if you don’t wear the
official blue you will be easily spotted as a stranger). If you
are looking for a place that your child can go to in the
Midwest, I highly recommend it.
Besides the cello, do you play any other instruments,
and what has been the hardest piece you’ve had to learn?
I play a bit of violin, a good deal of bass (I teach bass at
SU), and a whole lot of cello! When I conduct the Salisbury
Symphony Orchestra, my approach is really one of a player. I
never liked conductors who talked down to the orchestra, or
tried to blame the orchestra for things. Being a professional
cellist has given me the opportunity to see things as a player.
The most difficult piece I’ve ever played is the Carter Cello
Sonata. It’s got tons of notes, all over the cello (and piano),
and it’s a brainy sort of piece, yet, when you play it, the
overall effect is very powerful and moving. It took me several
months to just learn the notes, more time to really get to know
What would we be most surprised to learn about you?
I was the Georgia High School All Class Discus Champion in 1978.
Music and sports have much in common but that’s another
Do you have a favorite childhood memory?
I have so many great childhood memories, but one musical one
stands out. I had seen the demonstration by the new strings
teacher at my elementary school. I came home and looked up the
cello in the dictionary and saw a photo of a little boy playing
it. I said, “that’s what I want to play!” So, my mother went to
rent it one day when I was in school. I knew all day that this
was the day. When I got home I ran in and asked, “Mom, where’s
the cello?” She said, “In the car, but you can’t touch it yet,
you don’t know enough about it.” So, I went out to the carport
and stared into the backseat to see the cello. There it was, in
its cloth case. I was ten years old, and I didn’t know it at the
time, but I was looking at the thing that would shape my entire