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Setting aside the strings
WSO violinist focuses on the music
Without Ray Chrunyk, 62, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s musicians wouldn’t know what to play and when.
Though the principal librarian at the WSO does not choose what will be played, he does order, organize, and prepare all the music for his fellow musicians. Being librarian is a full time job, but Chrunyk has also been first violin with the WSO for 40 seasons. This season will be his last.
"It’s been a great career, I never would have dreamt I’d have the experiences that I have (had)," Chrunyk said. "Forty years ago, a professional career in music wasn’t even a consideration for me."
Born and raised in the North End, the Linden Woods resident had planned on being a doctor. He even studied in the University of Manitoba’s pre-med program.
"I didn’t have any goal of being a musician at that time," Chrunyk. "When I decided that medicine was not going to be a career for me, it just so happened that at that time I was taking lessons from Arthur Polson."
Polson, who died Feb. 25, 2003, told Chrunyk about the WSO’s student scholarship program.
"I would play all the classic concerts, of which there were 11 in 1972-73," Chrunyk said.
He would also receive an honorarium and a lesson a week with the leader of the violin section, which happened to be Polson.
"So I actually fell into my career with the WSO," Chrunyk said.
Chrunyk played two seasons as a student then auditioned for a full time position. He’s been there ever since.
Chrunyk said he loves playing with the WSO because it is really a team effort.
"There’s something about the power of the symphony orchestra," Chrunyk said. "It has its own uniqueness."
Chrunyk started playing the violin after watching his father on the mandolin. He started on the violin because both instruments have the same fingerings. He soon fell in love with the violin and decided to stick with it.
"It’s a great instrument," Chrunyk said. "You feel the vibration of the instrument through yourself. It’s just something that hits your inner core. It’s a connection that you have with your instrument.
"Every musician feels that with the instrument that they play, they feel the soul of the instrument within their own soul."
In 2000, he took on the second job as principal librarian, ordering and organizing music for his fellow musicians and conductors.
"I just started to feel the weight of two full time jobs for the orchestra more taxing," Chrunyk said. "I just thought that all the signs were there for this being the right time."
Not only is it Chrunyk’s 40th season, the orchestra will also be travelling to New York City to play Carnegie Hall — a momentous occasion, Chrunyk said.
"It’s kind of like the Super Bowl of the symphonic world," Chrunyk said. "That’s
going to be an extremely great experience and wonderful exposure for the orchestra."
With the extra time on his hands Chrunyk plans on waiting for winter to end so he can golf as much as possible.
The WSO will perform Manitoba Rocks! March 28 to 30, Juno Week concerts featuring Royal Canoe, Nathan Music Co., The Lytics and Imaginary Cities.
For more information visit wso.ca
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