Book One Characters

Concerto : Cast of Characters

Chrispen Marnett

Chrispen Marnett is the viewpoint character of the Alexis Brooks series books.  She is the new assistant concertmaster of the Newton Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra.

Chrispen is an adept violinist, and creates studio collages in her spare time.  She is twenty-three years old at the beginning of Concerto.  She moved to Newton shortly after graduating from the Juilliard School.  She’s lived in Newton for the past six months.

Chrispen’s best friend is Kolbi Edwards.  She has had a crush on Alexis Brooks for years–she has never told anyone in Newton, but her sole reason for moving there was the opportunity to work with him.

Chrispen Marnett is idealistic and loyal, with great faith in those she calls friends.  But someone in Newton has developed an unhealthy, violent obsession with her.  She begins receiving harassing phone calls, frightening faxes, and dead flowers.  As this terrifying stalker increases his intensity, Chrispen will have to decide who she can trust while her life spirals into chaos around her.

Alexis Brooks

Alexis Brooks is a world-famous violin virtuoso.  He grew up in the midwest town of Newton, but left immediately after high-school graduation with his new wife Madeleine, on a concert tour of the world that lasted two years.

But shortly after their return to Newton, Madeleine Brooks was murdered.  Alexis was accused and stood trial for the crime.  The trial ended in a mistrial and Alexis remained free, but under heavy suspicion, ever since.

Withdrawn and isolated from those who used to be his fans and the media that once adored him, Alexis is a brooding and capricious presence in the Newton Philharmonic.  And yet, Chrispen begins to see cracks in the aloof facade surrounding him, and as she forms her own opinions about him and learns more of the truth surrounding him and his late wife, she has to wonder how much of the world’s suspicion is justified.

Dwight Richards

Dwight Richards is the principal second violinist in the Newton Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra.  He has dark eyes and dark hair and a sharp sense of humor.

Dwight seems jealous of Alexis, but Chrispen can’t tell whether he’s actually jealous of the man, or just jealous of the attention she gives him.  Dwight is one of the few friends she has made in her few months in Newton, and he pleads with her to avoid their accused-murder concertmaster.

Of course, that could be down to jealousy too, as Dwight seeks to push his own relationship with Chrispen closer.  He’s a talented violinist, and he seems concerned and friendly, but Chrispen isn’t sure yet what to make of him.

Kolbi Edwards

Kolbi Edwards is Chrispen’s best friend.  She also works for the Newton Philharmonic, playing piano, harpsichord, harp, and several other instruments.

Kolbi is quiet but observant and knows more than she says about most things.

Lock-picking is a hobby of Kolbi’s–I read an article once about how people are taking up lock-picking as a brain-training exercise, and it sounded off-the-wall enough to be something Kolbi would do.  She has an unpredictable streak, and a strict sense of honor.

Kolbi has seen many changes in her years in the Philharmonic, and can give Chrispen valuable insight into where things have been and where they may yet go.

Kolbi is a loyal, fierce friend.

Darren Johnson

Darren Johnson is the conductor of the Newton Philharmonic.  Darren is quite a bit older than the other characters, and at times is a surrogate father figure to them.

Darren was good friends with Alexis’s father, Alexei.  He was a promising assistant conductor with a big East-coast symphony, until Alexei asked him to come to Newton and help start the brand new Newton Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra.

Darren hired Alexis Brooks as the symphony concertmaster at a time when no one else would touch him.  He has never spoken publicly or privately about his own feelings about the murder, but Alexis is very loyal to him and to the symphony nonetheless.

Daniella Lewis

Daniella Lewis is the Newton Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra’s principal violist.  She is somewhat awed by Alexis Brooks, but determined not to show that, so she often comes across as cutting and rude instead.

Daniella gives us another opportunity to study jealously.  She is nursing a crush on Dwight Richards, and is envious of the attention and concern he shows to Chrispen.  Perhaps naturally then, she dislikes Chrispen and they do not get along.

Daniella also enables us to see another facet of orchestra life: the phenomenon known as viola jokes.  Are they real?  You bet!  I once did a semester project on viola jokes for a folklore class I took in college.  Viola jokes can be funny, but they are a reminder that the viola gets much less respect than the instrument deserves.  There is an old stereotype that violists are just failed violinists, and this is untrue and very unfair.

Alexei Bruskalov

Alexei Bruskalov is Alexis Brooks’s father.  (Why, yes, he’s Russian, why do you ask?)

Alexei immigrated to the United States under dangerous circumstances before the fall of Soviet Russia.  He settled on the East Coast, and Americanized his last name to Brooks.  Still, he was a famous violinist under the name of Bruskalov.  The odd result is that sometimes people call him Brooks, other times Bruskalov.  He’s gotten quite used to answering to both names.

He married a talented pianist from Philidelphia named Victoria.  But even with the name change her society friends never could quite accept her marriage to a foreigner–and a Russian, to boot!  So they moved west to escape some of the stigma attached to them.

Partly because of the circumstances that drove him to leave the Soviet Union, Alexei has very strong faith in America and American justice.  And partly because of this, he has not spoken to his son since the murder accusation.  Even though he was not convicted, in Alexei’s mind he is guilty.  He left the Newton Philharmonic after Alexis was hired.

This situation is painful for Alexei, and for Alexis.

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