50 Years of Alumni: Kari Docter

College(s)/University attended:
University of Southern California; Bachelor of Music degree from Rice University; Master of Music from The Juilliard School

What years were you in GTCYS?
1981-1991 (Graduated 1991)

What skills or lessons did you learn in GTCYS that you still use today?
I learned leadership skills (I played principal a lot), discipline (showing up to rehearsals, making sure I had my part learned), working with a group (all of my GTCYS conductors were wonderful teachers and pedagogues, and the skills of working in a group—a section and the whole orchestra—were vital to my being able to continue on the path towards becoming a professional musician).

One funny story: In my years in the Symphony, we played Rossini’s overture to William Tell quite a few times. I often got to play the solo cello part. When I graduated from high school, I wondered if I’d ever have the chance to play it again. Fast forward 30 years to summer 2021 – I got asked to play principal cello for an outdoor concert of opera selections in NYC. We played William Tell and I played that solo again, after 30 years. As nerve-wracking as it was (especially after a year of not playing much during the pandemic), I definitely felt more at ease having learned that solo as a kid in GTCYS!

Why do you think GTCYS is important for students now?
Now more than ever (especially after the pandemic has stripped a lot of arts organizations) we need people to understand that the arts and music are essential to life, not just a luxury. Even if the students do not enter into a musical career, they will carry that feeling of accomplishing something as group, of feeling the beauty and power of what music can do, and hopefully will continue to support, and encourage others to explore music.

How does music still play a part in your life?
I am a cellist in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, so, well, I guess that’s clear enough!

What is your favorite composer or piece of music?
That is a tough one. So many choices! Off the top of my head? Schubert Cello Quintet and La Boheme by Puccini.

What’s a fun fact about yourself?
I love to read and to travel, especially with my family, and will do almost anything for a piece of chocolate cake from Caffe Latte in St. Paul.

What do you hope to see from GTCYS in the next 50 years?
More of the same! Seriously! Encouraging kids to realize their potential, giving all of them the opportunity to be a part of something bigger – an orchestra – this is something invaluable for young people, something that can stay with them their whole lives.

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