Christine Hutchings

Christine Hutchings is the new interim director for the Idaho Falls Youth Orchestra. 

Christine Hutchings’ love of music began when she was in fourth grade.

One day, orchestra teachers from her school district “demonstrated instruments for students. The cellist played the theme from ‘The Lone Ranger.’ … And I rode horses, so it just made total sense to me as a 9-year-old that I would be destined to play cello.”

Hutchings has been playing with the Idaho Falls Symphony since 2019 and was recently appointed interim music director for the Idaho Falls Youth Orchestra.

She took the job because of her “love for working with students in a musical capacity. … It’s amazing what you can accomplish with students.”

The Idaho Falls Youth Orchestra is in the process of gradually emerging from last year’s struggles. Hutchings has an educational background in music and firsthand experience in helping a youth orchestra grow and flourish.

She has a bachelor’s in cello performance and a master’s in curriculum and instruction.

Before coming to Idaho Falls, she was offered a part-time orchestra position and moved to Casper, Wyoming.

“I was teaching part-time and totally fell in love with teaching orchestra,” Hutchings said. “Then the position grew because my ensembles grew, and then I started adding more schools. At one point, I was at three schools.”

One of the most memorable experiences in Wyoming were trips to Europe. “Every two years we put together an orchestra from students throughout the state of Wyoming,” she said.

In 2013, 2015 and 2017 she took her students on these trips. “It was really fun to come together from this large state. … We did seven different countries within a two-week time frame.”

When Hutchings left Wyoming, 100 kids were in orchestra, but when she started, there were only 12.

Hutchings moved to Idaho Falls for her husband’s job with Idaho National Laboratory. This will be her first time working with students in the area.

In fact, this year will be a change for the youth orchestra members as a whole. Last year, students auditioned and gave performances virtually.

The students that auditioned and were accepted last year have never played in-person with the youth orchestra ensemble. Candidates are selected from across eastern Idaho. This year, they will be playing live performances with the youth orchestra for the first time, along with returning members. However, to Hutchings, that isn’t necessarily a challenge during the process of reviving the orchestra.

“I actually think it’s a blessing because (of) the energy that new people bring to an ensemble,” she said. “Plus, they’ve been sitting for a year like, ‘Well, I’m in the youth orchestra, but I haven’t had a chance to play in person.’ I think that’s going to be an amazing source of energy and momentum.”

For virtual students, playing in an ensemble will be a different experience, according to Hutchings. It “takes a different set of skills, but that’s always going to be present in any ensemble when you have new members coming in.”

Two youth orchestra concerts are planned — one in December and one in the spring. Though both performances are months away, Hutchings is already researching different pieces.

One decision going into Hutchings’ music selection is wanting to represent diverse conductors.

“There’s so many underrepresented conductors — women, people of color,” Hutchings said. “I think it’s possible, within even a youth orchestra setting, to represent more than just what is standard in our Western classical music.”

The themes for the two concerts are currently undecided. But given the struggles of the past year, Hutchings is “considering one piece in particular that really pulls at the strings inside and just really kind of reaches that human part of us … maybe in memory or contemplation” of the past year’s isolation and difficulties.

Future projects are up in the air, but Hutchings sees the youth orchestra’s focus growing.

“How fun would it be to collaborate with other youth orchestras or the youth orchestra collaborating with the adult symphony?” she said. “So, definitely I think that’s where the youth orchestra is headed.”

The first concert isn’t scheduled until later in the year. However, information about auditions will be released this month. 

For currently available information on auditions, visit https://www.ifsymphony.org/ifsyo-auditions.

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