Staples of your Orchestra: Toni Scott

  • Friday, November 15, 2013

Michael Quirk/Journal Scene Toni Scott displays her French horn outside her office at St. Paul’s.

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Endurance has long been a mark of Toni Scott. While in college she lost her father, Kenneth. Her brother Kenny passed away just a few years later. More recently she lost her 22-year-old daughter Stephanie to cystic fibrosis.

All the while she has endured and has become a successful caterer, clergy wife, mother, grandmother and the only French horn player in the Summerville Community Orchestra.

Scott was born in New Orleans and was adopted by Kenneth and Isabelle Franco who also had an adopted son named Kenny. Her time in the Crescent City was short as the family moved to Mobile, Ala. when she was two years old.

She first began playing music after finding an old Marine bugle.

“I drove everyone nuts with that bugle,” she said with a smile. “I was always singing around the house and music has been a part of my life for my whole life.”

In the fourth grade she made a seamless transition from the bugle to the trumpet. When she reached high school all of her friends were switching instruments to the oboe and bassoon prompting her to make a change to the French horn. Scott found a lot of success with the horn and was the first high school student to perform with the Mobile Symphony.

“It was such an amazing experience. I was so glassy-eyed and was enamored with everything.”

After graduating from Bishop-Toolen Catholic High School she accepted a full music scholarship to the University of Southern Mississippi, where her brother Kenny was a student. After two years performing at USM, the passing of her father took her back home.

“(Her father) was my biggest cheerleader and when he died I completely lost interest,” she said. “The music left me for 15 years.”

She returned home to Mobile and graduated with a degree in business from the Secretarial School at Southwest State Technical College. Her post-graduation jobs included: inpatient hospital admissions, insurance billing, medical marketing, Secretary to the Director of Nurses, and the director of marketing and admissions.

Scott met her husband, Rev. John Scott the associate rector of St. Paul’s, when they were children. They attended the same grade and high schools before a 20-year period of not seeing one another. During that time they both got married and divorced and had children: three for John and one for Toni.

They met again at a conference called Beginning Experience and were married a year and a half later.

There was still a void in Scott’s life, her longing for music.

“(Getting back into music) is literally a dream come true,” she said. “I actually used to dream about playing again and that is what led me to begin my re-entrance into the treasure that it is.”

Scott bought an instrument and began taking lessons. She quickly caught back up and played with the Mobile Pops and the Christ Episcopal Church.

The couple then moved to Eutawville where Toni opened a catering business called the Parish House Tea Room. It was while working the wedding of Yuriy Bekker and SCO flutist Jenny Bekker that she found about the SCO.

“I knew that Dean (Glace) played in the orchestra and Alex Agrest attended the wedding. I asked him then if he could use a horn player and he said yes. Shortly after that we moved to Summerville and I joined the orchestra the summer of 2010.”

She has since made it her goal to play with the orchestra “as long as I am able to benefit them” and tries to spread the word about the SCO.

“I always tell those I encounter to come to the concerts and I assure them they will not be disappointed.”

Just like herself, she said all the members of the orchestra have their own interesting story but they all come together because of one passion.

“We all have other lives, interests, backgrounds, nationalities, ages but the common denominator is that we gather because of our love of music.”

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