Schubert, Handel and Brahms from Marlboro
Let Me Introduce You
By Martha Frampton on February 18, 2020
Robyn Bollinger, a young member of the Schubert, Handel, and Brahms from Marlboro March 1 ensemble, spoke with me recently about her South Jersey connections. We covered a lot of ground in a short time … Robyn started violin lessons at four years of age and practiced at home daily with her mother, violin/violist Gerry Rice. Since fifth grade, Roby was home-schooled so that she could practice more. She studied with Soovin Kim in her teenage years and still plays for him and shares students with him in Boston. Robyn took some correspondence courses through Indiana University and read the New York Times every day in her senior year [for her education]. She was quite a renegade when she selected New England Conservatory (NEC) over Curtis Institute, a choice she made after a lesson with Miriam Fried in Boston. Robyn is grateful every day that she chose NEC. Read her bio in our program book or on her website to see her remarkable musical accomplishments.
Robyn comes by her music honestly. Her mother Gerry Rice is a respected violin and viola pedagogue and plays with the Philly Pops. Father Blair Bollinger is the bass trombonist in the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Martha: Do you have any “I missed this because I was practicing stories”?
Robyn: One summer at Aspen, there was a concerto competition…all of my friends went to go see the fireworks on the fourth of July and I decided to stay home and practice. I remember being in the practice room hearing- but I couldn’t even see the fireworks- hearing the pops and practicing. I was sort of unhappy, but I won the competition, so it all worked out in the end.
Martha: Tell me about your art lessons with local artist Akiko Day.
Robyn: I absolutely loved working with Mrs. Day. That was amazing… I loved the details. It was so satisfying to work that hard and have a tangible result. The hard thing about music is that you work and you work and you work and then you play and then it’s over, and you wonder: was it good, was it bad, was it worth it? At least with the visual art, it is so satisfying to work on something and hang it up.
And I still have some of those things…yeah, that was pretty good.
Martha: What are your musical connections with Midori and William Frampton?
Robyn recounted a story about her Midori outreach tour. The quartet was taking the bullet train to a school in rural Japan, loading suitcases and instruments. At one point three of them were inside the train and William was still on the platform, arms full of suitcases and the viola. The train doors closed on schedule and three were whisked away, looking back at the lone violist on the platform. Somehow William used his Japanese and travel skills to get to the school in time to perform.
Robyn: I just loved that tour. It was so fun to get reconnected with Will after all these years. He was always the cool, big kid in orchestra (Philadelphia Youth Orchestra) when I was little. Just getting to spend that much time with Midori and see the value and impact that our performances had on those communities was incredibly validating and moving and motivating. That trip was a highlight for me.
Martha: Aren't you friends with cellist Sarah Rommel, who has played on our stage?
Robyn: We were in a quartet together for many years with Paul Laraia, another Washington Township kid, and Justine Lamb-Budge, a beautiful violinist who is now in the Pittsburgh Symphony. We were coached by Sid Curtiss at the Settlement School. Sarah and I are still close and she’s going to play in my wedding in a couple of months.
Martha: Congratulations! Thank you for your time and we look forward to meeting you on March 1.