In the Key of Collaboration: Hillary Reynolds and the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra
Appleton native and musician Hillary Reynolds recently returned to Wisconsin after nine years in Boston where she established her career and band, Peridot. This Saturday showcases what they are excited to share: a benefit concert with the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra (FVSO). The concert will raise money for The Trina Fund, which assists women who are fighting breast cancer by providing travel expenses to and from appointments and treatment, and is named in loving memory of Reynolds’ mother.
When asking Reynolds about her return home to launch this endeavor, one hears effusive focus on a specific word: collaboration. She describes the recent homecoming as a wonderful “respite and anchor.” After all, it is the kind of place where “strangers are not afraid to give you a hug after an Old Fashioned at the bar,” noting the warm Midwestern regard she experiences here. She states unequivocally that this time spent here will be one of the most cherished in her life, come what may.
“I have had my eyes and heart opened to this community’s amazing willingness to collaborate on multiple levels,” she says, mentioning the diverse array of projects happening not only between artists, but also among artists, businesses and corporations. “I am so proud of this city.”
Appleton’s budding arts movement has great promise, adding, “It has such great seeds.”
The seed of music planted in her long ago was nourished by many and passionately by her mother. Reynolds recalls Trina as the fire behind her passion – though her passing revealed how deeply true this was, and in ways that forced Reynolds to refocus and redefine herself as an artist.
She describes how the partnership with FVSO unfolded in a way that is “quintessential Appleton at its finest.” Last year, Reynolds met with her mother’s dear friend and they discussed whether she would be interested in doing something in memorial of the five years since Trina’s passing. Reynolds described the desire to collaborate with the symphony some day down the road, and though a tall order, why not wish? Her mother’s friend picked up the thread, contacted Jamie LaFreniere, executive director of FVSO, and the pieces rapidly fell into place.
“When Hillary first approached me about the project, it felt so right,” says LaFreniere. “Hillary used to be in our youth orchestra so that’s an easy fit, but hearing her talk about The Trina Fund and seeing the passion she has for this cause, there was no doubt we wanted to be a part of this.”
This realized dream started itself from an earlier seed planted by Reynolds’ high school orchestra director, Gary Wolfman, who encouraged her to arrange one of her own songs. She rose to the challenge, describing how “magically the universe lent a hand” in connecting her to a local coffee shop manager and composition student at Lawrence University to collaborate with in the arranging.
And where many moms might have raised an eyebrow asking, “Wait, what are you doing, and with which college student?” Trina enthusiastically supported the creative partnership, and as a result, Reynolds’ musical dreams.
That this Saturday’s concert will, most importantly, benefit people literally fighting for the chance to have their lives lengthened and saved is the most magical aspect of all.
“That’s what it’s about,” Reynolds says. “It’s everything.”
Text: Katherine Chicquette
Photo: John Adams