Sandra Baker, Cello and Tom Baker, Viola

(A Prometheus Couple!)

Tom & Sandra cropped USE MEMusical instruments have indomitable spirits, don’t they? Take the case of Sandra’s cello.

Sandra learned piano and cello while growing up here in the Bay Area, in Berkeley. She went to UC Berkeley, earning a degree in musicology and theory, while of course continuing to play cello.

Meanwhile, Tom grew up playing piano in Santa Barbara. He too then went to UC Berkeley, where he studied every instrument in the orchestra (mainly violin and viola), while continuing to play piano and earning a Masters in Music Composition. Sandra and Tom met there and were married soon after. They both became Alameda County schoolteachers, Sandra teaching Kindergarten and Tom music.

Sandra’s cello went into the closet for the next 45 years as she taught school, raised children and worked in textiles—spinning, weaving, quilting and bobbin lace— earning three proficiencies from the International Organization of Lace.

Meanwhile, the cello looked on, patiently waiting for her to retire.

As a composer, Tom has written pieces for orchestra, a choral work with wind instruments and tympani, an anthem for St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, and a piece for 3-part women’s chorus. “Summer Breezes,” which Prometheus played a few years ago, was written for an outdoor summer concert in Fremont, to express orchestrally the beauty of the outdoors in the summertime.

Tom has also performed as a pianist with the Monterey County Symphony; in solo piano concerts in Salinas, Monterey, Carmel, San Mateo and San Francisco; in Noon Concerts at Cal; on KPFA; and with the San Francisco Symphony under both Enrique Jorda and with its Summer Pops Orchestra with Arthur Fiedler. And once he appeared in a recital with Leon Panetta!

Just over 10 years ago, Sandra realized that she had taught the grandmothers of children in her class! That was it. Time to retire and pick up the cello. Music flowed from it once again. The cello had known all along it would happen one day—and couldn’t be happier. Tom soon retired and concentrated on viola again (he says he has pianist hands, better suited to viola than violin).

Tom joined Prometheus over 15 years ago and Sandra joined in 2003, after starting cello lessons again. They say they’ll be with us forever. And now we couldn’t be happier!

~Joyce Vollmer

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