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Both directors dislike the entire idea of listing their accomplishments. Therefore, if you only wish to know only the best parts of each director, read the next two paragraphs by their photos. If you really want to know the bragging events of their lives, read on..

My name is Kerry Borgen. I began playing the violin at age four, under the Suzuki pedagogy. My first five years I learned to play purely by ear. If I can hum a tune I can usually play it. Of course “it” is not a very good piece to play as “it” is too short.  One of My Favorite Things to do is to co-direct Applause with Gretchen Egen (rain drops on roses and whiskers on kittens, I love to play with amazing Applausicians). I also love playing for musicals and operas, both on stage and in the pit. Here is a story of some of the productions I have had the pleasure to be a part of.

THE FIDDLER IN FANTASY LAND

Once upon a time I was skipping through a field of flowers and noticed a beautiful butterfly.  It was so gorgeous, I decided to serenade it. I nicknamed it MADAME BUTTERFLY. The butterfly loved the music and soared to the rooftops, so I followed it. "A FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, sounds crazy no? but in our little village of Martinez, you might say that every one of us is a fiddler on the roof, trying to scratch out a pleasant and simple tune." After fiddling on the roof I went INTO THE WOODS and found CINDERELLA. She wasn’t wearing any shoes, not even a glass slipper! When I asked her why she was not wearing her glass slipper she proclaimed that she was FOOTLOOSE and fancy free, and besides she was no longer in love with the prince. She loved THE MUSIC MAN. However, THE MUSIC MAN was in love with another… MISS SAIGON. He was concerned because he had been searching for her and could not find her. I told him she was on the WEST SIDE (but that is another STORY). He said he was on the west side and only saw a cat in a hat talking about something called SEUSSICAL. He was confused and asked if that was a musical. I told him it was, and he went on his way.

When he finally found MISS SAIGON he asked her hand in marriage. She agreed to marry him, and he proudly exclaimed SHE LOVES ME!

The happy couple hired Garden Strings to play for their wedding. Pauline Metzgar, Gretchen Egen and myself were thrilled to play for them as we love performing together. And everyone lived Happily Ever After.

I'm Gretchen Egen, cellist, co-founder and co-director of Applause.  I started playing cello at the age of eight in the Suzuki Method.  Cello was not my first choice, nor my second, nor any choice for that matter.  My younger brother had already started the violin, inspired by my best friend at the time.  I wanted to play flute (but the band would be too loud), violin (brother already plays it), piano (too big for the house), harp (too big to schlep around and too expensive), or nothing at all (not an option).  My ballet teacher encouraged all of us to play an instrument to help with our rhythm, and I was planning on being a ballerina when I grew up. My brother's violin teacher, a cellist, thought it would be good if I learned cello.  I thought the cello was too big and ugly, but the decision was made, and I cried for a month.  Who knew that these people chose what would become my career? 

 I didn't read music for the first 2 years of playing cello, and didn't like to read for 11 years after that.  I'd learn the piece reading the notes on the page and memorize it at the same time to get rid of the book.  Yet if somebody asked me to play by ear, or improvise, or be in a band...too scary.  I was too "traditionally classical" for improvisation, long past graduate school.  I never liked to make a fool of myself.

Then there was Applause...  Applause has made me grow as a musician, but I can't say it has made me grow up...quite the contrary.  Making a fool of myself has become a weekly occurrence, or maybe I should say a weekly obligation, and I'm loving it!  Applause oozes out of me at musicals, when I do little things in my chair that the audience can't see, trying to make the other musicians laugh.  When I'm playing with Garden Strings, Applause oozes out at wedding receptions when Kerry Borgen and I get the violist Pauline Metzgar to join us with some dance moves.  The guests at the wedding usually give us applause when this happens, as we bring parties to life.  I'd like to thank my parents who live in Tucson, Arizona and yet are so supportive of me and my Applause addiction.  They are so helpful to Applause, as they take photos of the group when they drive through town on vacation, make us DVDs and CDs of the group, and created and manage our website.  They deserve a lot of Applause.  I’d also like to thank Kerry and all the Applausicians who keep me laughing, keep me creating, and keep me young at heart.
Here's more about them…

Kerry has been teaching violin since the age of 12. She graduated from California State University Long Beach, where she received a scholarship to perform with the honors string quartet and chamber ensemble. She has performed with many chamber and orchestral groups throughout the United States and abroad, with scholarships from the Congress of Strings, Interlochen Arts Academy and the National Orchestral Academy in London. Kerry has performed as a soloist with the Nova Vista Symphony, the Mission Chamber Orchestra, and the Danville Community Band. She has played with the San Jose Symphony, California Symphony, Santa Rosa Symphony, and as Concertmaster for the Nova Vista Symphony.

Gretchen received her Bachelor of Music from the University of Arizona and her Masters from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, studying with Gordon Epperson and Bonnie Hampton respectively. She has been soloist with the Philharmonia Orchestra of Tucson, the Kensington Symphony, and the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra. She has toured with her cello throughout the United States, Brazil, the Azores, and Europe, and has worked under many conductors including Leonard Bernstein. Gretchen played with the Pacific Piano Trio, specializing in music by American composers, and the Del Sol String Quartet, playing numerous children's concerts and recording a CD, Short Cuts, with music from the U.S., Cuba, and Argentina. She has been principal cellist with the Santa Cruz County Symphony, Sacramento Philharmonic, Sacramento Ballet and has also played and recorded with the Women's Philharmonic. Currently she plays with the Sacramento Philharmonic, and she regularly subs with the Santa Rosa Symphony.

Since you were eager enough to read on, here’s a juicy bit of trivia for you. If you wish to spend an evening watching two horrible movies, supposedly available on video, Gretchen and Kerry have two recommendations for you. Made for TV, Redwood Curtain, starring Lea Salonga, Jeff Daniels, and John Lithgow, also has a scene in it with Gretchen. Kerry can be found in an even worse feature movie that was voted as one of 1983’s top 10 worst movies, called The Man Who Wasn’t There with Steve Guttenburg, rated R. Both movies are hard to find, not available at Netflix or Blockbuster. Redwood Curtain can be rented from Le Video in San Francisco. The Man Who Wasn’t There doesn’t seem to be anywhere. Good luck.

Gina Graziano, guest choreographer, has just completed her eleventh year as the music and music specialist at John Muir Elementary School in Martinez.  She received her training in Orff Pedagogy at Mills College, Oakland and the Orff Institute in Salzburg, Austria.  She was Martinez Unified School District's 2008 teacher of the year and has served two years at the president of the Northern California Chapter of the American Orff Schulwerk Association.  Her musical adventures are documented on http://www.ginagraz.com