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Grammy-nominated adjunct teaches with passion, skill

Concert Master,Ulli Reiner, plays her part with the Palomar Symphony Orchestra in the first concert of the water themed concert season on Oct. 10 in the Howard Brubeck Theatre. Photo:  Casey Cousins | The Telescope
Concert Master,Ulli Reiner, plays her part with the Palomar Symphony Orchestra in the first concert of the water themed concert season on Oct. 10 in the Howard Brubeck Theatre. Photo: Casey Cousins | The Telescope

Born into a family of musicians and lovers of music, Ulli Reiner was immersed into a world of music from birth. Before she was four years old she was conducting orchestras as the music flowed through the speakers of her record player.

Today she is an artistic director, conductor, professional violinist and educator. Out of 4,500 nominees, Reiner is now in the top 25 finalists for the 2016 Grammy Music Educator Award.

Reiner calls this the “happiest time of my life,” and “one of my greatest honors in my life — to represent all the teachers in the country. There are educators out there doing so many wonderful things and I’m honored to be a part of that group (teachers).”

On Dec. 7, the final 10 nominees will be named and will be invited to attend the 58th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony to be held on Feb. 15 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Since 1983, Reiner has been an adjunct staff member at Palomar College as concertmaster and orchestra manager of the Palomar College Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Ellen Weller, conductor of the Palomar College Symphony.

“I am so proud to have her as a colleague and to work with her in the Palomar Symphony Orchestra… all those accolades are well deserved,” Weller said.

She is the orchestra director at Poway Union School District Middle School Orchestra, a conductor of the Poway Community Symphonette, conductor of concert strings with the San Diego Youth Symphony, and she teaches the violin – both traditional and Suzuki.

Reiner has completed many international concert tours conducting the Civic Youth Orchestra Chamber and with the Poway Community Symphonette.

Reiner said that although she is passionate about her music, she becomes effervescent when talking about her youth programs and teaching the youth. It was evident during a recent interview that she loves to teach people of all ages and her goal each day is to teach with compassion so as not to hurt feelings.

“There are exceptional people in the world that give and leave something behind,” Reiner said. One of her favorite quotes from Albert Pine is “What we do for ourselves dies with us – what we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”

This is the lesson she wants her students to take with them.

One of her mottos for teaching is to be positive and yet have high expectations; students need to practice away from the orchestra and learn their music to do their part. And she reinforces that expectation with trust. Once a student realizes this trust exists, then they rise to the occasion.

Reiner will be taking the Poway Symphonette to China in 2016. Dr. Weller and Ching-Ming Cheng, an award-winning pianist and professor with the CSUSM Symphony Orchestra, will be joining them.

During their trip to China next summer, Reiner has a special program to represent a modern composer and to represent the United States. Dr. Madelyn Byrne had composed a violin concerto, Decorah Bald Eagle Violin Concerto, for Reiner. The music portrays the four seasons of the eagles. Reiner will be taking the “Spring” portion of the concerto which is about the egg laying, egg hatching and the tenderness of the majestic birds.

In the learning process, music becomes the key to enhancing our thinking skills necessary for critical thinking and reading. Reiner loves teaching music, especially to middle school-age children. It is her goal to “make them better people and become future protectors of the planet.”

When asked about whether her favorite was educating or music, she replied, “They are connected and they enhance each other and they stimulate each other, intellectually and musically in teaching, conducting, performing — in an ensemble and as a soloist — and managing some of these groups.”


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