Noblesville resident appointed executive director of the Carmel Symphony Orchestra • Current Publishing


Music has been a part of Cara Pittenger’s life since she was 2, so it’s only fitting that the Noblesville resident is the new executive director of the Carmel Symphony Orchestra.

Pittenger, 37, began her role in August.

When she was 2 years old, Pittenger started playing the piano. She switched to percussion when she reached college.

“I started playing the piano at 2 years old. My mother was a piano teacher and I wouldn’t let her teach me, ”Pettinger said. “Now I have my daughter, so I understand why I wouldn’t let my mother teach me because (my daughter) also beats me on the piano. I started percussion in college. I was told that girls shouldn’t be percussionists. I have to hit things for fun.

Pittenger began taking percussion lessons from Ball State University professor Erwin Mueller when she was in high school. She drove over an hour each way each Wednesday to attend the hour-long classes.

“He was the best teacher,” Pittenger said.

Pittenger went on to study music education at Ball State. She studied with Mueller when she obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in percussion. Mueller said Pittenger had an “unusual talent.”

“It’s still a part of my life today,” Pittenger said. “He’s the reason I’m where I am today.”

Mueller said Pittenger was an excellent student.

“She is a very talented musician. She really knows music. She doesn’t just know music, she’s a performer, ”Mueller said. “She’s just an amazing woman, player and person, just a lovely person. Whatever she does, it will be very organized. She can get things done without causing a lot of frustration in people. She is a wonderful, wonderful woman. She is very talented in everything she does.

Pittenger taught in public schools for six years before enlisting in the United States Army, where she played in the 38th Infantry Division Band for six years. She met her husband, Rod Pittenger, in the group.

“I was going to make the army active but decided to join the National Guard,” Pittenger said. “My husband and I didn’t know each other before, but then we went through the same basic training, the same music school (US Army) and started dating at the Virginia music school. “
Pittenger previously served as personnel director for the Muncie Symphony Orchestra and the Anderson Symphony Orchestra. She joined the CSO as a music librarian in 2019.

“I prepared the music for the orchestra, put all the bows, handed out the parts and everything,” she said.

In the summer of 2019, Pittenger became the CSO’s personnel manager. The personnel manager hires musicians and prepares replacement musicians. In August 2020, she became director of operations of the CSO.

“Then our executive director left in October 2020, so I was the only one here in the office while we performed all year, and then I became executive director in August 2021,” she said.

Pittenger also gave private percussion lessons but no longer does so. In her role as Executive Director, much of her work revolves around fundraising.

“I’m on the administrative side of the orchestra, helping raise funds and making sure operations run smoothly for each concert,” Pittenger said.

Pittenger’s favorite instrument for playing is the marimba, a percussion instrument made up of a set of wooden bars struck with coiled or rubber mallets to produce musical tones. The marimba is similar to the xylophone. She also still plays the piano.

Pittenger has two children. His daughter Rylee is 8 years old and his son Caden is 7 years old. Rylee plays the piano and the marimba.

Pittenger said she performed in other orchestras when she could, usually with the Muncie Symphony Orchestra.

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Cara Pittenger learned to play the piano as a child. (Photo courtesy of Cara Pittenger)

The benefits of music

Playing and teaching music are passions for Cara Pittenger, a resident of Noblesville, the new Executive Director of the Carmel Symphony Orchestra.

“Music education is the most important thing for me. Music is a universal language, ”said Pittenger. “You can speak any language, but the music sounds the same to everyone. It is shown that test scores are higher if you participate in music. I think it’s an outlet for a lot of kids. I know when I was a kid and I was frustrated I would go play the piano and it would calm me down. There is a lot of discipline in music, especially if you are in a marching band and orchestra, of course. There is so much history to learn.


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