Meet the Musicians: Timothy Garland

Seattle Symphony First Violin Timothy Garland finds moments of silence by volunteering as a Forest Steward at Discovery Park.

By Andrew Stiefel

If you take a walk in Discovery Park, you might stumble upon Seattle Symphony First Violin Timothy Garland in the forest. He’ll be busy digging in the soil, removing invasive plants and planting new trees.

Forest stewards
Forest Stewards Thomas Palm, Pete Pulliam, Timothy Garland and Phillip Vogelzang at Discovery Park. (Photo: Danny Helseth)

Tim is a forest steward, a program run by Green Seattle Partnership with the City of Seattle. He cares for approximately an acre of forest simply known as grid 21-07 on the map. “I spend my whole life in that park, bird watching or walking with my dog, so it felt right to give back this way,” says Tim.

During his time off from the orchestra, Tim might contribute 20 to 30 volunteer hours each month. He works alongside his fellow forest stewards and mentors Tom Palm, Jeff Rahlmann and Phil Vogelzang or ecologist Eric Sterner to restore habitats in Discovery Park, a former military base.

When he’s not volunteering in a bright orange vest, Tim prefers to disappear into the fabric of the forest and photograph the local bird life. If you haven’t noticed him in the orchestra, that’s by design.

Barred owl
When he’s not working in the forest, Timothy Garland takes photos of the local wildlife like this Barred Owl in Discovery Park. (Photo: Timothy Garland)

“When you walk through the forest you don't see the sword fern, you don't see the salal. You're looking at the trees. But all that is impossible without the framework in the ground,” he explains. “I think orchestras are similar. If the audience doesn't notice me, I've done my job. My job is to be the forest floor, to create a framework for the music.”

For Tim, caring for Discovery Park provides an essential balance to his life on stage. “If you don't have moments of quiet contemplation, you don't have silence. And then how can you create music? You have to start from a calm sense so you can do what you're meant to be doing.”

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Posted on December 2, 2019