In concert: Marilee Hartman

  • Monday, April 21, 2014

Taylor Griffith/Journal Scene Marilee Hartman has been playing the violin since she was 12. Today she plays with the Summerville Community Orchestra.

Marilee Hartman feels she’s always been linked to Summerville.

“Playing the violin and Summerville have been connected since the 1990s,” said the Illinois native.

She’s been traveling to town since 1995, whenever her Summerville-based best friend invited Hartman to play events with area churches and performance groups.

“Ever since then I’ve always wanted to live here.”

In January Hartman decided to make her dream a reality and move to Summerville by herself, while her husband remains at their family farm in Minnesota.

Hartman said the chance to play her violin with the Summerville Community Orchestra was a huge draw, ever since sitting in on an SCO rehearsal a few years ago.

She enjoys playing with the orchestra because of the opportunities to grow as a musician and to work with fellow orchestra members.

“The music is challenging, but I see I’m improving. Alex [Agrest, the conductor] is very patient and encouraging, it makes me want to work on the parts. My goal is to continue to improve my technical skills so I can be a better part of the orchestra.”

Hartman offered the insight, “You’re never done improving,” a mantra she lives by; the 66-year-old has been playing the violin for more than 40 years and still practices nearly every day.

When she was a child Hartman began her musical career playing piano and then the clarinet. After attending an orchestra performance she said she fell in love with the strings, and her grandfather gave Hartman her grandmother’s violin as a gift.

Today her daughter plays that violin.

“I’ve always just loved the looks of the violin. I don’t have words for it. You can be a part of an incredible beauty with music, and there’s a spiritual connection with music… It’s just something words can’t describe.”

Hartman is particularly fond of playing Baroque music and enjoys playing in smaller ensembles in addition to the larger orchestra performances.

Professionally, Hartman was a social worker by trade. She has degrees from the University of New Hampshire, Lawrence University in Wisconsin, and earned her masters from Columbia University in New York City.

The violin has always been a hobby of hers, but it has played a role in her professional life as well.

“God has given me many uses for the violin besides orchestra,” she said, including playing the instrument for hospice patients.

Hartman has been married to her husband Bob for 32 years. The couple has two children, a 29-year-old son and 23-year-old daughter.

The Hartmans have spent much of their life traveling, including to visit their son when he was a teacher in Kenya. “We actually lived with the Maasai tribe in their village for a month. One day we hope to go back to see our friends again.”

Locally she is also hoping to travel. Destinations on her “must see” list include Beaufort, S.C., and Savannah.

Her violin is a usual travel companion.

“It’s a life-long treasure to be able to play, whether you’re alone or playing for others in hospice, being in a community orchestra... There are just so many things you can do. If you love it, you don’t give it up.”

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