John RihaniOne of the best things about being a part of Encore and Paige’s is the relationships we develop with the people we help. Some of these relationships are old – college friends who are now performers or school directors. Some of them are new – people who purchased instruments and became close friends. Whether old or new, these relationships encourage us, shape us, and challenge us.

In the spirit of relationships, we thought we’d start out 2015 by posting short stories about the members of the Encore team. The purpose is to let you know a little bit more about us and how we ended up here, serving you. First up is John Rihani…

When did I fall in love with music? I remember there being music around the house growing up, but my first real memory of music making a strong impression came when I was nine or ten years old. My dad had one of the first “portable” CD players…although a battery pack that took six C-cell batteries is far from today’s standards of portable! I remember him playing a recording of Beethoven’s 9th symphony (Cleveland/Dohnanyi/Telarc) with that little CD player hooked up to a Panasonic boombox…I was mesmerized. In middle-school, I played cello in the orchestra. I have absolutely no recollection of why I chose the cello! I didn’t take any private lessons and I don’t remember my time in middle-school orchestra being defined by any moments of personal musical greatness (ha!). However, in 8th grade a new orchestra teacher came to town – Mrs. Sally Ross. Many of us can tell a story about a teacher who changed the course of our life. If you assembled all of the students who would say that about Sally, I’m not sure Lucas Oil Stadium could hold them all. After spending my 8th grade year with Sally, I spent my 9th grade year overseas. When I came back to my hometown in 10th grade, I started taking private cello lessons with Sally. I’m not sure exactly when my love of playing the cello turned into “I want to be a cellist”, but the balance of my time in high school was filled with preparations to apply to music school. The next three summers found me at the Governor’s School of North Carolina, Interlochen Arts Camp, and the Aspen Music Festival. It was while I studied with Cassel Grubb at Interlochen that I first heard about his son, William Grubb, at Butler University. I successfully auditioned for Butler and spent the next four years attaining my cello performance degree.

During the same time I seriously studied the cello, I was also fascinated by the instrument itself. I’ve always performed on modern instruments and love having a personal relationship with the person who built my instrument. I started reading Strad magazine when I was twelve and VSA journals shortly after. My musician friends were sometimes embarrassed by the fact that I would often ask famous musicians if I could examine and play their instruments!

After Butler, I spent the next six years working in the business world and also earned my MBA from the IU Kelley School of Business. By 2006 I was ready to return to my first love of music and instruments. In a providential bit of timing, Paige’s Music was hiring its first ever “Orchestral String Specialist” to help launch a violin shop within the business. Thus Encore Orchestral Strings was born and, eight years later, I’m writing this post. Woven into the fabric of my story over the past eight years are countless students, directors, professors, and private teachers who I have the joy to serve. Thank you. I treasure your trust and your friendship.