French horn musician Carol Brulotte has performed with the Central Ohio Symphony since its beginning 38 years ago. Brulotte has decided to retire after the symphony’s performance this Saturday.
Looking at the life cycle of a brass player, Brulotte said she decided it was time to take her last bow. “Being old and being a brass player don’t go together,” she said. “It’s probably time to do it and let them get a younger person in.”
Symphony executive director Warren Hyer, also one of the first members to join the symphony, has worked with Brulotte as a musician and as a member of the symphony’s board of trustees. “Carol has been in the orchestra from the beginning,” Hyer said. “She has a real passion for music and she has a real passion for what the orchestra means to the community.”
Brulotte’s passion for music has been a lifelong passion for her. “I started as kid in the fifth grade,” she said. “My dad was a pretty good timpani player but he sort of wished he had played the horn because he always pointed the horns out to me.”
Brulotte described what it’s like to play in the symphony. “It’s a pretty terrific feeling to play a great piece of music,” she said. “If you’ve never sat in the middle of a symphony orchestra, I feel sorry for you. There’s a high there you can’t get in other places. It’s wonderful.”
Brulotte said she loves the way the French horn blends with other instruments in the symphony. “It’s a great instrument to play in the orchestra. It blends with the woodwinds and the brass.”
Some of Brulotte’s favorite pieces to play come from Brahms. “I love playing Brahms symphonies,” she said. “They’re all wonderful to play because they have great horn parts.”
After graduation from Miami University in 1971, she moved to Massachusetts to teach. That is where she met her husband, Dick.
“My poor husband has been patient through the years,” she said. “When he asked me to marry him, I said: ‘Um, one thing. I do plan to keep playing which will mean evening rehearsals and things. I hope that’s something you’re not going to mind.’ I always knew if I didn’t have rehearsals and concerts coming up, it would be very easy not to practice and, if you don’t practice, it dosen’t take very long and then you’re done.”
Brulotte and her husband moved to Delaware in 1976. Once settled, she began to look for groups to play with. “I enjoyed doing it and I wanted to make sure I had someplace to play,” Brulotte said.
One day she stopped at Ohio Wesleyan University to ask about playing with the symphony, she said. She was told there was a symphony made up of people from the community and OWU students.
“The symphony has evolved over the years from a town-gown orchestra where nobody was paid to everybody being paid,” she said. “Most everybody has a degree in music in the group. It’s not like playing the trombone in the high school band.”
She added, “It’s not like the Columbus Symphony where it is your full-time job.”
As for the paid members of the symphony, “Carol has never accepted pay,” Hyer said. “She has always played for no fee as her contribution to Delaware.”
Brulotte said admires Gray Chapel where the symphony performs. “We play in this wonderful hall at Ohio Wesleyan University,” she said. “It has great acoustics. It’s really a nice hall.”
Brulotte and her husband raised four children, and each one was encouraged to play a musical instrument. “When they were all home, often we could have two people practicing at the same time,” she said. “It sounded a little like a music school upstairs.”
Retiring doesn’t mean Brulotte is walking completely away from the symphony. Her plans are to stay involved behind the scenes on the board. “She’s a longtime important person of the symphony,” Hyer said. “She will be happy being a regular board member.”
Brulotte is a past president of the board of trustees. “Carol is honestly one of the the best board members,” said Amanda Rigo, assistant to the executive director. “She is one of the driving forces behind the symphony.”
Brulotte has given private music lessons to students over the years. “She has helped others to go into music,” Hyer said.
Brulotte conducts the bell choir at her church, plus other musical projects within the community. “She has helped out a lot of groups with special projects around the community,” Hyer said.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.