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Oregon Symphony: A cello love story nearly 20 years in the making

Oregon Symphony cellist Trevor Fitzpatrick listens to his wife and fellow cellist Marilyn de Oliveira. (KATU Photo)

The Oregon Symphony creates stories out of sound. Sitting in the audience, you feel almost embraced by the sounds, the musicians and performers on stage, and the story their music is weaving.

But there's a love story at play in the string section of the Oregon Symphony, a story that's almost 20 years in the making.

"We met at a music festival outside of Cleveland, Ohio," says Trevor Fitzpatrick, who plays cello in the Oregon Symphony. "We were stand partners."

He's talking about the first time he met his wife, Marilyn de Oliveira. They were both in college, both were cellists, and both had bigger dreams.

That was in 2001. They didn't start dating right away, but they liked each other.

Then they reacquainted while both played in the New World Symphony in Miami. That's a symphony full of recent graduates of distinguished college music programs. And they clicked.

Now, 17 years after they first met, they live, work and play together. De Oliveira is the Assistant Principal Cellist for the Oregon Symphony.

"It's fun to come to work every day with your wife," says Fitzpatrick.

They get to experience the adrenaline rush of performing in front of ecstatic crowds at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall together, then go home to their 3-year-old daughter. She's already interested in the family business.

"She asked for cello," says de Oliveira, laughing about her daughter's love of music and knack for mimicking what she saw her parents doing. "By the time she could sit up, she was putting a little violin between her legs and playing it like a cello."

"She's really into music! Poor girl, she doesn't have a choice!" says de Oliveira.

Fitzpatrick and de Oliveira didn't make their way to the Oregon Symphony at the same time. Fitzpatrick joined 12 years ago, De Oliveira nine years ago. In the middle, they got married in Brazil, where de Oliveira grew up. Fitzpatrick is from Canada, where his parents were both symphony musicians.

Theirs is a love story with a bass line.

"You gotta be on the bass side, the bass cello, the bottom string side," says de Oliveira. "That's where the party is."

And they say playing in Portland, in front of Portland crowds and with other musicians who've chosen to make this their home, is an inspiring experience.

"I love it. This is an amazing orchestra," says de Oliveira. "The musicians are so incredibly talented."

And since Trevor and Marilyn don't have family in this area, their fellow musicians have filled that void.

"We hang out! They're our fam!" says de Oliveira.

"We have a good time up there," says Fitzpatrick. "It's not all serious (sometimes it is) ... we have our days, but we love it here."

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