Anne Duthie McCafferty grew up in Indianapolis and has played with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for 45 seasons. She never thought she would have the chance to have a performance job, but when the opportunity arose she took it. Since then, McCafferty has performed for millions of people, performed numerous fantastic pieces, and coordinates the local chapter of Classical Revolution. Read below about her life, career, and impact on Indy.
Anne Duthie McCafferty: Indy’s Beloved Cello Maven
Anne Duthie McCafferty has been playing with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for 45 seasons and has performed for millions of people in her outstanding orchestral career. She grew up in Indianapolis and came from a musical family. McCafferty’s father went to Northwestern University to study music and was a tenor soloist for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and her mother sang in the choir at Memorial Presbyterian Church. Her grandmother was a prominent church organist in town, and some of McCafferty’s earliest musical memories revolve around church music and being inspired by her grandmother: “my grandmother was a professional organist at some of the biggest venues in the city… at a time when women weren’t professional [musicians].” The combination of a strong foundation in music from her family and countless hours of hard work set McCafferty up for success. In high school, she performed in band, orchestra, and choir, took all of the music courses possible at Arsenal Tech High School, and went on to attend Indiana University School of Music, as it was called at the time.
At IU, McCafferty was studying music education when opportunity struck. She took an audition that ended up winning her the Assistant Principal Cello position with the Ft. Wayne Philharmonic. McCafferty played with the orchestra for three years before successfully auditioning for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. In 1973, she would begin a journey performing with the ISO that would last for over four decades. “I was in school at the time, but I never thought I would get the opportunity to have a performance job, so I took it.”
Her position with the orchestra has allowed her to tour the United States and Europe. Some of her fondest memories with the orchestra were the European tours where she was able to go beyond her role as cellist. In 1993, McCafferty wrote a series of articles for the Indianapolis Star called Postcards from Europe. It was a great opportunity… That was a time before common internet, so we had to phone it in… Jay Harvey, the Indy Star’s music critic, picked out the dates and concerts and would call me. I would write the stuff in the back of the bus and then call him [to dictate the article to him].” In 1997 McCafferty was asked to perform a series of string quartet concerts with her quartet, The Spring Mill Quartet, that coincided with the ISO tour. She remembers fondly, “we gave concerts in Madrid, London, Cologne, and Vienna and so that was pretty exciting!”
In 2011, McCafferty and several friends decided to launch Classical Revolution Indianapolis, a casual chamber music series that takes place on the first Tuesday of every month at the Chatterbox Jazz Club. The formation of the Indianapolis chapter of C-Rev (as regulars call it) was handled by a couple of freelance musicians. However, right before the first performance at the Chatterbox, a couple of key musicians had to leave town to pursue job opportunities elsewhere. McCafferty stepped up to the plate to take over coordination of this delightful music series. “There was nobody else to sort of… coordinate it. I didn’t want it to go away because it was a great opportunity… I think it really brings something unique to the city.”
McCafferty’s favorite part about C-Rev is how it reaches a new audience. “Yes, people come just for Classical Revolution because they are interested in the music, but always the remarkable thing is how we get people who just happen upon us and that’s just the best… it’s always really gratifying.” Although McCafferty is in her final season with the ISO, don’t expect her to stop playing anytime soon. She plans to use her time to read new repertoire, try different projects, and, of course, continue to play at C-Rev. Thanks for all of your hard work and dedication to bring music to our community, Anne!