Humans of the MET: Michelle Baker

by Katherine Anderson, violist

At the end of this season, after 27 years as second horn of the MET Orchestra, Michelle Reed Baker is retiring. Violist Katherine Anderson caught up with Michelle to discuss her most treasured memories from her remarkable tenure and her many, many plans for retirement.

Photo by Richard Blinkoff

Photo by Richard Blinkoff

Katherine Anderson: Michelle, would it be OK if I asked you some questions about your experiences in the MET Orchestra and your upcoming retirement?

Michelle Baker: That’s a bit out of my comfort zone! Well, OK.

KA: Yes, I know! When did you start at the Met?

MB: I started in the MET Orchestra in 1990, with a one-year position. During that year, I took the international audition and won the permanent position, thank God!

KA: What are some of your memories from your first few years at the Met?

MB: Being blown away by the musicians around me....being blown away by the singers...being blown away by everything! Playing next to my teacher, Julie Landsman, for 20 years was a thrill, of course! Sitting in the middle of it all is just beyond amazing. I have tried very hard never to take it for granted - even during Norma, Semiramide, and Puritani!

KA: Even during Puritani? Wow! What are you looking forward to when you retire at the end of this season?

MB: I'm looking forward to having more time for my loved ones...my husband, Charlie, of course; my grandchildren, Sophie, Lyla, and Cameron, plus my grandson on the way; and my parents, Bob and Jackie Reed! Not to mention my brothers and their families, and my brothers-in-law and their families, my stepsons and their wives Matt and Momo, Andrew and Mel, and Mark!

KA: What kinds of activities are you planning to be involved in?

MB: I will continue to teach at Manhattan School of Music, Montclair State University, and as an assistant at Juilliard, and hopefully freelance a bit. I will continue to be involved at my church - playing piano, teaching Sunday school, and helping with the youth activities. I plan to also play in [MET Orchestra Concertmaster] David Chan's Montclair Orchestra!

Michelle and family

Michelle and family

KA: In other words, you'll be pretty busy in your retirement!

MB: Yes, I will. I also want to say that my MET Orchestra colleagues are the best! Helpful, loving, amazing and like a family since day one. I will miss all of the above more than words can ever express!

KA: Michelle, we will miss your beautiful playing, your positive, upbeat spirit, and especially your contagious laugh!