Chris Deviney’s mother and grandmother saw his interest in music blossom when he was a toddler, “pull[ing] pots and pans from underneath the stove and play[ing] with wooden spoons” to make music, Deviney said.
Now, as a percussion professor and principal percussionist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Deviney said his dream of being “in the best orchestra that [he] could possibly get into” has come true.
“I used to go to Philadelphia Orchestra concerts every single week for two years. So I really got to know the orchestra, the styles of players and that’s the orchestra I knew more than any other,” Deviney said. “Coming back after all those years later and playing with the Philadelphia Orchestra is really kind of my dream, my dream come true in a way.”
Deviney is one of several professors who teach at Temple on the side to supplement their careers performing in the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Jeffry Kirschen, a French horn player in the Philadelphia Orchestra, developed an enthusiasm for the orchestra when he was a child growing up in Northeast Philadelphia.
“I had interest in other orchestras I’d heard on recordings, but the Philadelphia Orchestra was one that I could actually see live,” Kirschen said.
The proximity added a certain excitement to the group, he added.
Kirschen, a 1975 music performance alumnus, teaches private lessons to horn majors at the Boyer College of Music and Dance because “it’s somewhat of a responsibility to pass on wisdom and success that works for us as professionals,” he said.
“The things that we do on a regular basis we learned to do, somebody taught us how to do it, and the people I teach want to do the same,” Kirschen added.
During Kirschen’s time as an undergraduate at Temple, he struggled to choose between different majors in departments like music and the sciences, before he decided to follow his passion of music.
“It’s very exciting to recreate great works of art, just like an actor would perform Shakespeare,” Kirschen said. “We as performers love to play the orchestral works.”
Deviney studied at Temple in the late 1980s under Allan Abel, who was a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra at the time. Deviney said Abel had a reputation of preparing his students for national auditions.
“That’s why I came to Temple, to study with him,” he added.
Now teaching side-by-side with his old professor, Deviney said he “feels a strong connection to Temple.”
Deviney compared teaching at Temple to “mystery-solving.”
“The challenge becomes trying to reach those students in different ways rather than just giving them all the same answer or the same suggestion,” Deviney said.
Kirschen believes teaching is beneficial to both the student and the teacher.
“It helps me also as a performer to kind of think of a solution to a problem one of my students is having,” Kirschen said.
Kirschen emphasized the importance of the orchestra in Philadelphia’s community and said people need to have culture and diversity in their lives.
“You have a need for culture and arts. Reading, writing, literature, visual arts and film, poetry and music, they’re all part of our lives.”
“Without music,” Kirschen added, “people would not enjoy life.”
Devon Lamb can be reached at email@example.com.