Alumni Q&A: Maureen Conroy ‘04 on her role as Principal Librarian of the Minnesota Orchestra

Maureen ConroyUCSB Department of Music alumna Maureen Conroy was appointed Principal Librarian of the Minnesota Orchestra in June of 2017. Ms. Conroy, who completed her Bachelor of Music degree in horn performance at UC Santa Barbara under the direction of Professor Steven Gross, took the time to answer a few questions about her new job, and share some of her favorite memories from her time at UCSB.
Bachelor of Music 2004
University of California, Santa Barbara
Master of Music 2006
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Hometown: Valencia, CA
Q: Congratulations on your recent appointment as Principal Librarian of the Minnesota Orchestra! How did you first become involved as an orchestra librarian?
A: When I went to school at Michigan, I was able to be a part of the work study program. I chose to work in the Ensembles Library, which introduced me to the behind the scenes world of the music library. I enjoyed working there so much, I got in touch with the librarians in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra library to seek out an internship. I worked as an intern on the weekends throughout my master’s degree. The internship turned into a full time job where I worked until I won a job with the Utah Symphony.
Q: What drew you to apply for the position with the Minnesota Orchestra?
A: It is rare for a position in a top orchestra to come open. When I saw the posting for the Minnesota Orchestra, I knew I had to go for it. The orchestra is not only incredible, it is actively recording and touring.
Q: What is your favorite part of the job?
A: I love working closely with conductors and the players to get the materials to a place that it will enhance the music making on stage. It is very gratifying to know I played a silent role in the performance.
Q: How did studying performance help to prepare you for your current position?
A: My performance degrees are extremely important. Orchestral librarians are musicians first, and many of librarians in the major orchestras are tenured musicians. We are the first set of eyes on the music and we make sure that the materials will not hinder the players from giving the best performance they can. I draw from my past experience as a performer to know what will work on stage and what won’t. The library knows we’ve done a good job when no one knows we are around! I also draw on my performance experience to keep grace under pressure. The library in Minnesota prepares music for all Subscription (classical) concerts, Pops performances, school concerts, Tours (including domestic and international), special concerts, family concerts...the list goes on. This orchestra is a true 52-week orchestra and the amount of music that runs through my office can be staggering. Luckily, I have a wonderful team and we all know when to "breathe".
Q: What was it like studying in the UCSB Department of Music with Professor Steven Gross?
A: Dr. Gross created an incredibly supportive environment. I was part of a small studio and most of us were very close. I had a lot of opportunities to play in different ensembles, chances that I wouldn’t have gotten in a larger studio. He had a great sense of humor, even during my most stressful lessons. He was always looking for ways to enhance our musical education, be that bringing in Dale Clevenger and Frøydis Ree Wekre for master classes, or driving a van-load of horn players to an intensive horn weekend in New Mexico at a horn camp!
Q: What advice do you have for students who may be interested in pursuing library or administrative roles with an orchestra?
A: Explore the field by experiencing it first hand! Seek out internships, and guidance from people already doing those jobs. The “behind the scenes” work is extremely important to the continuation of the art-form and is a great way to have a relationship with music for an entire career.
Q: Favorite UCSB memory? 
A: It is really difficult to pick a favorite memory out of four years. I loved my time in Santa Barbara! Musically, one of my favorite moments was playing the Richard Strauss First Horn Concerto with the Wind Ensemble. I had so much fun and I don’t know if I have ever felt more confident in my playing than I did that evening. Outside the music department, it would have to be visiting the Goleta Butterfly Grove during the monarch migration. Seeing hundreds of butterflies hanging from trees was truly magical. I also enjoyed my time illustrating for the Daily Nexus and, of course, swimming in the ocean.
More About Maureen Conroy
Maureen Conroy joined the Minnesota Orchestra in June of 2017. She came to Minnesota after 7 years as a Librarian with the Utah Symphony. She has also worked as an Assistant Librarian with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and as the Chamber Orchestra Librarian at the Aspen Music Festival and School.
Maureen earned her bachelor’s degree in horn performance from the University of California, Santa Barbara. While earning her master’s degree in horn performance at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, she was introduced to the music library world by working for the Ensembles Library. While completing her degree, she pursued an internship with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and received orchestral librarian training from the DSO librarians, Robert Stiles and Ethan Allen. She was later offered a full-time position in the library, where she worked until winning the job with the Utah Symphony.
When she’s not in the library, Maureen enjoys time outdoors with her husband, Kit Weber, and daughter, Florence.
Maureen Conroy