Interlochen alumnus and tuba major, John Whitener recalls his days at Interlochen as instrumental in laying the foundation for his recent appointment as principal tuba for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. John attended Interlochen Arts Camp and Interlochen Arts Academy from 1997-1999.
After graduating from the Academy, Whitener received his bachelor’s degree from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he studied with Paul Krzywicki, formerly of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He then went on to study at the Yale School of Music for one year before completing a two-year postgraduate diploma at The Juilliard School.
While living overseas he performed on several concerts and recorded a television program with the Brussels Philharmonic as well as several performances with the Rotterdam Philharmonic. Before winning his current position with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, John completed one week and then a two month trial with the Orchestra.
“In the United Kingdom, orchestras have a trial system by which several successful audition candidates play a stint with the orchestra and then they narrow the field by not only who plays the best, but who fits the best,” he explained.
“Of all the orchestras and all the teachers I've ever had the privilege of working with, Interlochen, without a doubt, had the biggest impact on my life,” John says. “I would never have experienced what I have without having gone to Interlochen first.” He said the experience led him to the RSNO, the highlight of his career.
“I can not say enough about the high level of instruction at the Academy,” said John. “Tom Riccobono (instructor of low brass at the Academy) taught me the beginnings of professionalism, fundamentals and discipline. I have heard so many stories about people not being hired because they were late to rehearsals, don't behave appropriately or can't socialize. These are the mistakes you can make at Interlochen and learn from. In the real world you just don't get hired again.”
John currently lives in Glasgow with his wife, Rebecca.