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Elena Lence Talley, Principal Librarian

Elena Lence Talley has served as principal music librarian of the Kansas City Symphony since 1992, and she resides in Lenexa, Kan., with her husband, Doug, and daughters, Cecilia and Julia. Talley has carried scores for music directors Bill McGlaughlin, Anne Manson and Michael Stern, as well as countless guest conductors. She has moved the music library twice in her career, most recently to the wonderful, spacious (and clean!) library in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. She does not recommend this as a weight-loss experience. Talley wrote a series of behind-the-scenes articles (covering topics from the role of the concertmaster to the percussion section to composers’ catalogues) for the Kansas City Symphony program book from the 2003-04 through the 2006-07 seasons. When queried about what she enjoys most about being part of the orchestra, Talley states that hearing the music come to life, after hours of hands-on preparation, makes it all worthwhile. Talley served as the president of the Major Orchestra Librarians’ Association during the 2011-12 season, an international organization of more than 275 organizations, and she was a panelist on jazz and symphonic music at the 2012 conference in New Orleans. She also has contributed an essay to the book, "Insights and Essays on the Music Performance Library" (Scarecrow Press). Additionally, Talley is a clarinetist with a yen for chamber music. She tours extensively in the Midwest with friends Dan Velicer (piano) and Sarah Tannehill (soprano) as the Lyric Arts Trio. The trio has commissioned and premiered many new works, including one by notable Kansas City composer, Jean Belmont Ford. Post-concert activities include the trio’s tireless search for the ultimate queso dip. Talley grew up in Denton, Texas, and attended Denton High School (with Kansas City Symphony trombonist Wyatt Henderson), she graduated from the University of North Texas with degrees in music education and clarinet performance. Talley was membership coordinator for the International Clarinet Association for 10 years and the author of several cover-stories for "The Clarinet magazine," including a fascinating exposé of the Marx Brothers bubble-blowing clarinet. Talley reads as much as time allows (not nearly enough). She loves to cook, and especially, bake.

Ten questions about me:

What is your earliest musical memory?

Playing the old upright piano that my Cuban grandmother passed along to our family.

When did you know you wanted to be a professional musician?

In high school. I went to school in Texas, where public school music (especially band) is a huge deal. I initially thought I wanted to be a middle or high school band director, and then revised that after I did my student teaching for my Bachelor of Music Education degree at the University of North Texas. I then went on to earn a Master of Music in Clarinet Performance, and planned to teach on the college level. I did teach at Emporia State University to cover for a professor on a sabbatical leave. While I was still free-lancing as a clarinetist, I began working as Jean Fielder's assistant librarian here at the Kansas City Symphony.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?

The obvious answer is my two daughters. Today's answer is making it to rehearsal, appropriately dressed, prepared for the day.

What is your favorite thing about performing music?

I love being inside the music. Listening to a recording is just not the same. It engages your entire self. Not to mention there is something new each time, no matter how many times you have a played a piece.

Other than your Kansas City Symphony concerts, where else can audiences catch you performing in town?

I perform with my chamber music trio, the Lyric Arts Trio (clarinet, soprano, and piano) both in Kansas City and throughout the Midwest as part of the touring programs for the Kansas Arts Commission and the MidAmerica Arts Alliance.

What songs/albums are in your iPod/MP3 Player/CD Player right now?

I listen to the radio far more than cuing up a particular CD. I am an NPR-head, and also love the radio website Pandora. When I am working on a gnarly, tiring project in the library (like erasing all the cuts from an opera), I go straight to Pandora for some old-school soul, Latin music or indie rock.

What is the best part about being a musician in the Kansas City Symphony?

We are an entity of many parts, all working together to make great music.

What is your most memorable performance with the Kansas City Symphony?

I played in the orchestra when we performed Mahler "Symphony of a Thousand", and that was an amazing feeling to be surrounded by such a force. I really loved the Stravinsky Year, a number of years ago, hearing so many pieces in the space of a relatively short period of time.

Tell us about your family and your hobbies.

I am married to jazz musician, Doug Talley, and we have two young daughters. Cecilia is in 5th grade, and Julia is 6 years old. Hobbies would include cooking (and eating), especially baking. Even more especially chocolate. I also love to garden, although lately I have been letting the weeds win.

What good book have you read recently?

I love to read, and often have more than one in progress. "The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield was a real page-turner.