The Really Terrible Orchestra of the Triangle



Dr. Robert B. Petters

Dr. Robert B. Petters
Emeritus Professor
North Carolina State University

Bob Petters, after attending high school and the Lawrence Conservatory of Music in Wisconsin, taught in public schools in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin and attended graduate school at The University of Michigan. After teaching conducting and music education class and conducting the Campus Orchestra and the Michigan Youth Symphony at The University of Michigan, he came to North Carolina State University to teach classes and conduct a concert band and orchestra. He served as the head of the Music Department before retiring and continues to teach “An Introduction to Musical Experiences” as an adjunct instructor.


Welcome and thank you for visiting the website of The Really Terrible Orchestra Of the Triangle (RTOOT)! We invite you to explore our site, listen to our music, leaf through our program materials, and watch our rather odd concerts (coming soon!).

Who are we? The Really Terrible Orchestra Of the Triangle exists to encourage those who have been prevented from playing music together with others, either through lack of talent or some other factor, to rehearse and perform in an ensemble of similarly afflicted players. From a humble beginning in May 2008, we have grown into a 50-piece symphony orchestra worthy of its role as one of the premiere cultural gems of the Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill NC (USA) region known as the Research Triangle. Except that we’re pretty terrible. Terrible, in the French sense of Des Enfants Terribles ... in that while we haven’t made fun of Bach or Mozart yet, we certainly have had a naughty excursion or two with Strauss and Tchaikovsky.

We acknowledge as our musical heritage the world-famous Really Terrible Orchestra (RTO) of Edinburgh, Scotland , which was founded by the eminent Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith. Similar to the RTO, the primary goal of The Really Terrible Orchestra Of the Triangle (RTOOT) is to involve competent musicians in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area who are not quite competent enough to play with the Durham Symphony, the Raleigh Symphony, or the Chapel Hill Philharmonia. Our passionate mission is to reach out to the entire music community, irrespective of individual expertise, in order to underline our commitment to accessibility and relevance. Accessibility, because we provide a unique opportunity for musicians of any age, gender, persuasion, political affiliation, race, who want to play with a group, regardless of their level of competence. Relevance, since our bizarre performances tend to attract the entire community (including particularly those on the fringe) who enjoy a good show and may never otherwise be lured inside a symphonic concert hall.

All ages, races, genders, and persuasions of instrumentalists are invited to join our ranks. In particular, if Mom played the viola in college and Dad played the clarinet, and Junior is playing the oboe in the middle school orchestra, make it a family occasion and enjoy playing together in an ensemble!! Just send us an email to to sign up and request an audition.

Yes. There are auditions. We don’t want players who are too competent.

My Strow W. Sands Hobgood

My Strow W. Sands Hobgood

Professional musicians may be accepted into membership if they pick up something they’ve never played before and if they play it badly enough. For example, the Zachary Taylor Smith Term Professor of Music at UNC Chapel Hill is third flautist and piccolautist. His son is in the cello section. A local saxophonist, heard quite often in broadway touring pit orchestras, plays the oboe for The Really Terrible Orchestra Of the Triangle (RTOOT).

Generally, the RTOOT performs twice a year. Rehearsals are held weekly on Sunday afternoon in Cary at the Herb Young Community Center just off Academy Street or at the Bond Park Community Center just off Highhouse Road.

Founder and Conductor of the Really Terrible Orchestra Of the Triangle is W. Sands Hobgood, keyboardist and conductor in the triangle area since 1952. He has a legitimate job as a church musician but believes that the associated institutions would wish to remain anonymous. Mr. Hobgood, in addition to his conducting activities, rearranges the hard parts for instruments that are incapable of performing them as written.

The Really Terrible Orchestra of the Triangle (RTOOT)
Center for Documentary Studies
© 2010 Duke University
Kim Best

In Memoriam

my strow w. sands hobgood

"My Strow" W. Sands Hobgood, Jr.
April 2, 1945 ~ August 27, 2016