Checking off a bucket-list item: playing violin in the National Symphony, at age 74

Posted on: December 18, 2018

“A typical National Symphony Orchestra pops concert has 22 violins,” writes John Kelly in Monday’s (12/17) Washington Post. “On Saturday afternoon, there were briefly 23: Cathy Strickler—a 74-year-old, retired high school counselor and climate change activist from Harrisonburg, Va.—made her NSO debut…. In October … I invited readers to share their ‘D.C. bucket list’ items…. Growing up in Arlington, Va., Cathy had played the violin—rather unexceptionally, she admitted…. Cathy’s bucket list dream was to play one song with the NSO. ‘I would love to be in the middle of beautiful sound,’ she wrote. Well, the NSO read that column and invited Cathy to do just that…. On Saturday … holding the only violin she’s ever owned [she played] her one song—‘Sleigh Ride’—with the orchestra…. The bright lights meant Cathy couldn’t see … that many of [the audience] were giving her a standing ovation before she’d played a note. Cathy had wanted to do this, she told me, not just for herself, but to honor public school music teachers everywhere … who maybe sometimes thought they weren’t getting through to their students. But they did get through, for here was Cathy at the Kennedy Center, her elementary school violin tucked under her chin.”

Posted December 18, 2018

In photo: On Saturday, retired high school counselor Cathy Strickler of Harrisonburg, Va., ticked an item off her bucket list by playing with the National Symphony Orchestra during its holiday pops matinee concert. (John Kelly/The Washington Post)