Ben Spalter, ’10. Development Officer, Boston Symphony Orchestra; Trumpeter. Stage fright was my reason for not performing for a living. I didn’t like the nerves and the stressing and the sweating associated with being a soloist. I discovered this hard way when I studied abroad in Vienna, Austria my junior year. I was playing with conservatory caliber musicians in the greatest classical music city in the world, and while I could hold my own I could not bring myself to put in the 7-8 hours of daily practice that my peers were capable of. There were too many other things to see and experiences to be had outside of a sound-proof practice room.
This realization helped confirm my future. I had other priorities and varying interests that would have to suffer if I wanted to be a successful musician. Performing wasn’t in my future; however, music had been and would continue to be a huge part of my life. I soon discovered the discipline of Arts Administration, and it turned out to be the right fit for me. The business side of music is both fascinating and rewarding, without the stage fright. Thanks to my piano teacher at Wheaton I benefited from an internship with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood. It was an eye-opening experience to what the music business is like, and I fell in love. The personal interactions with famous artists kept every day anything but ordinary. I’ve drank wine with Yo-Yo Ma, shepherded John Williams through throngs of crazy fans, and gone house hunting with Alec Baldwin. It’s hard to think of a more thrilling summer job.
After graduation I was hired full-time to work in the BSO’s development office – primarily because of my experience as an intern. I am responsible for about 12,000 low end donors and their relationship with our organization. When I began my Wheaton career I had no idea what I would do after graduation, but I’m lucky enough to have a job with one of the premier non-profit arts organizations in the country. It takes some effort, but it’s good to know that with a music major you have options. You don’t have to be a starving musician or the next Beethoven to make music the focus of your life, you just need to take the discipline and work ethic you learn from rehearsals and practice and put it to good use.