Workspace: Carol Whitman, librarian for symphony
Carol Whitman once heard a fellow musician in the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra say that when you play music for others, you get to give something away every time you’re on stage.
“It’s a gift that you’re giving to the listener and to yourself, really,” Whitman said
She understands the importance of this gift, which is why she spends her days curating, organizing and preparing all of the music used by the symphony’s musicians.
Whitman is the principal librarian for the symphony, as well as one of its 16 violinists. For the past nine years, she’s been responsible for scouring the archives for pieces previously played or finding music to rent or own for future use.
The symphony plays hundreds of pieces each year. Right now is a particularly busy time, as the symphony is in the midst of its holiday performance schedule. Books from Handel’s “Messiah” and loose sheets of “The Nutcracker” are splayed out on the library’s countertops.
The music is stored in the Klacsmann Music Library in the symphony’s downtown building. The library was created in 1995 and has shelves of bound music, booklets and rolling shelves to maximize the space. Wheeling the shelves back and forth is one of Whitman’s favorite parts of the job, she said.
About a week before practice begins, Whitman carefully places books of music on a cart outside the library for musicians to pick up. She works with her assistant, Debby Heller, who is also the symphony’s piccolo player, to prepare the music.
Because she’s a musician, Whitman knows what pencil notes left behind on the music that can be helpful to others. For example, Heller and Whitman mark the bowing directions for the string players so the bows of the string instruments are in time with each other.
“It looks better to the audience and sounds better if we’re all doing the same thing at the same time,” Whitman said.
She is originally from Louisville, Ky., and has played the violin since she was 6. She’s played for the Jacksonville symphony for decades. It’s a tradition she’s carrying on for her mother, who played violin for the Louisville orchestra.
Whitman said she enjoys that the music she prepares is the framework for the pieces that are manifested on the stage. Although she knows the importance of her work, she’s always surprised when visitors who tour the building become absorbed in the workings of the library.
“They ask questions, and they just seem fascinated,” Whitman said. “You see all the books, and think, everything is a different story.”