Hidden from small

Erica Peel - Behind the Scenes

January 03, 2018

Each month in the Orchestra’s Playbill, we feature one musician in a question-and-answer segment. Below is that feature in its entirety.

Where were you born? I was born in Miami, FL, but I grew up in New Jersey. 

What piece of music could you play over and over again? Meditation from Thaïs by Jules Massenet.

What is your most treasured possession? I treasure my six-year0old daughter more than anything in life, but since she isn’t exactly a possession, I’ll go with my hair dryer.

What’s your favorite Philadelphia restaurant? I’m still getting to know the culinary scene, but so far, I think the Moules Frites at Parc are other-worldly. Real Food on 16th is another fast and delicious favorite. I also can’t pass up Sweet Freedom bakery for allergy-free treats. 

Tell us about your instrument. The piccolo has a reputation (often well-deserved) of being painfully loud and obnoxiously out of tune. While it can certainly be used as a weapon in this way, I’d rather convince listeners that it can be warm and beautiful. Sure, it’s capable of blowing the doors off a room, but I believe it’s truest form is as a sonorous instrument, capable of convincingly delivering the sweetest, most glorious, or most heart-breaking music. 

What piece of music never fails to move you? Since playing with this orchestra, I am literally moved Every. Single. Concert. There’s a profound energy within this ensemble … of course, everyone is a brilliant musician. But more than that, they breathe together, move together, and are very much connected in the delivery of the music. I’m not doing a great job describing the sensation, but you’d have to be dead inside not to be moved by it!! 

On a more personal note, I fell in love with my husband while hearing him perform the English horn solo in the Largo from Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony. So that movement always manages to bring a tear to my eye.

What’s in your instrument case? My bag contains music, pencils, swabs, a flute/piccolo stand, Chapstick, cigarette paper (for drying the pads!), earplugs (see above), tuner (see above), ibuprofen (see above), and water.

When did you join the Orchestra? Officially, in September 2017. But I played with the Orchestra the summer prior, on its Asia tour and in Saratoga.

Do you play any other instruments? I can find my way around a piano, and played tenor and baritone saxophone in my high school jazz band.

What’s your favorite type of food? Thai or Korean. 

What books are on your nightstand? The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and Gulp by Mary Roach.

Do you speak any other languages? Jibberish in the form of “idiga” and kindergarten level Spanish. 

Do you follow any blogs? Wellnessmama.com. I’ve become a little obsessed with finding/making all-natural, toxin-free products. This blogger has fantastic DIY recipes for bath and beauty products, health remedies, and great food recipes, too. 

Do you have any hobbies? Does hanging out with my daughter count? When she finally goes to sleep, my husband and I watch horrible/mindless reality TV shows. And when we’re not getting wrapped up in the latest Bachelor/Bachelorette drama, we cook together, play tennis, have family dance parties, and laugh a lot.

What’s the last recording you purchased? CD or download? The Moana soundtrack on CD. Have I mentioned my six-year-old daughter? 

What’s on your iPod? A little bit of everything. These days, Avicii, Bruno Mars, Muse, and Duffy are getting the most play time.

When was the first time you heard The Philadelphia Orchestra? I grew up listening to recordings of the Orchestra, but the first time I heard them live was during my first trial week in November 2016. I have always been in awe of THE Philadelphia Orchestra. I still am. 

Other than Verizon Hall, where is your favorite place to perform? Schools. It’s so rewarding to see the look of wonder in a kid’s eyes … to feel like you are potentially molding their view of orchestral music and the people who play it. It gives me hope! I’ve also found that if you can make your instrument relevant to the music older kids listen to, a lightbulb goes on, and they realize the connection of all music, no matter the genre. Again, very rewarding. 

Photo by Carrie Lynn Schaffart