Musical Blood Drive!

Come one come all to a special musical blood drive at the Red Cross on Halloween morning from 10am-12pm! Please join us if you are able to help the Red Cross replenish blood supplies from all the recent natural disasters. Costumes welcome!

Meet Derek Hawkes!

The Musicians of the Nashville Symphony welcome our new 2nd Trombonist Derek Hawkes to our wonderful brass section. Derek is from Plano, Texas which is ironically where our Principal Trombonist Paul Jenkins is from. They were 4 years apart and went to rival high schools so we are glad they are now on the same team! Derek enjoys craft beers and coffee so he will no doubt love Nashville. He is also an amateur hockey player, and hopefully will be a big Preds fan.

New Violinists!

As we start our season, we’d like to welcome three new symphony members to our 2nd violin section.

Jung Min Shin came to Nashville in 2015 with her husband Kevin Bate who happens to be our Assistant Principal Cellist. They have two daughters at “almost” 3 years and 18 months, so they no doubt keep very busy when not working with the orchestra. Jung Min comes from South Korea and played in the Alabama Symphony before coming to Nashville. She tells us she would not have won the audition if Kevin hadn’t been so supportive. Plus, her parents came all the way from South Korea to help with the kids so she could practice. Way to go Mom and Dad!

Paul Kim comes to Nashville from Cleveland where he attended the Cleveland Institute of Music. Originally from Seattle, Paul enjoys video games and is getting into the “country music thing” in Nashville.

Jimin Lim comes to Nashville from the Chicago Civic Orchestra. She attended Indiana University as well as the Korea National University of the Arts. A native of South Korea, Jimin loves the food in Nashville and is enthusiastic about cooking herself.

We welcome them to our family, and we know their colleagues in the 2nd violin section are certainly glad that there are no longer any vacancies in the section.

Five Musicians = 158 Years

 

Mary Helen Law, Cassie Lee, Ann Richards, Susan K. Smith in front of recording angel at Schermerhorn Symphony Center

Mary Helen Law, Cassie Lee, Ann Richards, Susan K. Smith in front of recording angel at Schermerhorn Symphony Center

Five Nashville Symphony colleagues retire at the end of this 2017-18 season; their combined tenure as members of the orchestra’s brass, woodwind and string sections exceed 150 years. Two were born in Middle Tennessee: lifelong Nashvillian Ann Richards, and Susan K. Smith, who was born in Murfreesboro but moved to Florida at the age of two. Cassie Lee, born in Big Stone Gap, VA, grew up in Knoxville; Radu Georgescu was born in Bucharest, Romania; and Mary Helen Law was born in Oklahoma City but grew up in Stamford, CT.

 

 

Radu Georgescu

Radu Georgescu

Each was between seven to ten years old when they began playing an instrument, but it wasn’t necessarily the instrument they play in the Nashville Symphony. Radu began playing the violin at age seven; Ann began piano lessons at age seven, but was 11 when she began playing the flute; Mary Helen played the violin in elementary school but switched to viola in high school; Cassie and Susan were both 10 when they began playing their respective instruments, clarinet and trombone. Susan remembers deciding at age 14 “that I wanted to play trombone in a professional Orchestra”, and later “also decided that I wanted to teach trombone on the college level.” Mary Helen and Ann grew up in musical families; Mary Helen “grew up in a family of musicians, married a musician [ former NSO Principal Trombone Lawrence Borden], and my daughter is a violist.” Ann’s father was a longtime member of Local 257 who “came to Nashville as a musician, playing big band, Dixieland and old standards”, played clarinet, saxophone and violin; her mother played piano, and her brother played pipe organ and clarinet.

Master Performers

Ann Richards in 1977 (photo by David Rogers)

Ann Richards in 1977 (photo by David Rogers)

Ann attended California State University – San Jose (BA-Music), studied for two years in Europe, and after receiving a Master of Music in Performance from Northwestern University, she followed her dream of becoming an orchestra musician when she “won the position of Second Flute (later retitled 2nd/Assistant Principal Flute) in 1977, right out of grad school.”

Cassie Lee

Cassie Lee

Cassie attended University of Tennessee (BS-Music Education), and, like Ann, received her Master of Music in Performance from Northwestern University. “I wanted to teach at a University and play in a local orchestra, if there was one.” She said she was invited to audition for the Nashville Symphony and then, for unknown reasons, was disinvited. After some confusion Cassie was again invited to audition for the orchestra and won the position of Second and E-flat Clarinet in 1979, which was later retitled 2nd and E-flat/Assistant Principal Clarinet.

Mary Helen Law

Mary Helen Law

Section violist Mary Helen, had multiple interests: while focusing on viola, she also dabbled with piano and French horn in high school, and took voice lessons and minored in theater and dance while attending the Crane School of Music at SUNY-Potsdam (BME). She received her Master of Music in Viola Performance from New England Conservatory, followed by a year of Professional Studies at The Juilliard School. “I was obviously interested in a variety of performing arts! I freelanced in New York City for six years where I played with five different orchestras along with various opera and choral gigs (and many other giglets) in and around the NYC area.” She did recording work in Boston that helped pay for her Master degree, and played summer orchestra festivals in upstate New York. “I also spent three summers in Mexico City playing in Filarmonica de las Americas. I met my husband in Mexico and joined him where we were members of the Filarmonica de UNAM in Mexico City before we were fortunate enough to both get jobs in the same orchestra (Nashville Symphony), which is always a challenge.”

Susan K. Smith with red trombone, a gift from musicians & staff presented by NSO colleague & bass trombonist, Steve Brown

Susan K. Smith with red trombone, a gift from musicians & staff presented by NSO colleague & bass trombonist, Steve Brown

Susan attended University of Kansas (BME), and received her Master of Music from the University of North Texas. She worked in more than a dozen orchestras – including the South Bend Symphony, where she performed with NSO violist Michelle Lackey-Collins’ father, and the Chicago Symphony, as well as off-stage brass with the Metropolitan Opera; and as a member of the Millar Brass Ensemble and Chicago Trombone Ensemble – all before winning the position of Second Trombone in 1994. “My position was eventually changed to Assistant Principal and I also played Principal Trombone for a total of more than four years.”

Ben Lloyd pays tribute to his 2nd violin colleague, Radu Georgescu

Ben Lloyd pays tribute to his 2nd violin colleague, Radu Georgescu

Radu received a Master degree in violin interpretation and teaching from Ciprian
Porumbescu Academy of Music in Bucharest, Romania, and performed with the Camerata Chamber Music Orchestra (Costanta, Romania), George Enescu Philharmonia (Bucharest, Romania) and the Royal Symphony in Seville, Spain, before winning a position with the Nashville Symphony in 1996. “I had always wanted to perform in an orchestra and to solo; it was family issues that brought me to Nashville, and when I got the position, it was with the intention to move back to Seville, Spain in two years.”

The Early NSO and Why They Stayed

Michael Charry was Music Director when Ann and Cassie joined the NSO; it was still a part-time orchestra that performed at War Memorial Auditorium until moving to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) in 1980-81. Both found it necessary to have other work, so Ann freelanced, taught, and played chamber music and other gigs. “I liked the orchestra, the area and saw its growing potential. I also enjoyed being near my family.” “There was a specified salary of $3,800,” according to Cassie. “I began teaching at Blair in 1981 and it took eight years for me to save the money to buy a house. By then, I knew Nashville was where I wanted to be.”

Kenneth Schermerhorn was Music Director when Mary Helen, Susan and Radu joined the orchestra. Mary Helen “considered [moving to a bigger orchestra] a couple times when the symphony was not as well supported, but as time went on we decided this place was a good fit for a number of reasons not necessarily entirely related to the orchestra.” She joined the orchestra when management was “looking to expand the orchestra both in terms of size and length of season. The orchestra was changing from being a very part-time gig with mostly evening rehearsals…to becoming an orchestra of mostly daytime rehearsals and more weeks in the season. They had hired Kenneth Schermerhorn as music director with the idea he could help grow the Nashville Symphony into a major orchestra. There were lots of growing pains over the years, along with a strike and a lockout, but a lot of those earlier goals have been achieved. It has been quite a ride.” Susan remembers, “in 1994 most rehearsals were at several churches and the concerts were at TPAC. Usually there were two concerts a week. I also performed around 30 brass quartet concerts a year in the elementary schools are far away as Red Boiling Springs, Crossville and Shelbyville. I really learned my way around the area.” Radu joined the orchestra with a long contract in 1996. “It was like a part-time job. There were 170 services per season that were poorly paid.” The orchestra later upgraded all part-time contracts to full-time.

A Time of Change

Mary Helen Law & daughter Laurel Borden in 1988

Mary Helen Law & daughter Laurel Borden in 1988

Ann, Cassie and Mary Helen joined the orchestra prior to the 8-week strike in 1985 and 8-month lockout (and Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy in 1988). Ann remembers “the city was growing so fast it seemed logical there should be a full-time orchestra; however, convincing fundraisers was not easy.” Cassie said, “I bought my house in September 1987. The NSO went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 1988. Scary!” And Mary Helen, who was four months pregnant when the orchestra shut down said, “The lockout was certainly a very difficult high stress time. Our daughter was 16-months old when we heard on the six o’clock news that the symphony was shutting down. For those of us that came to the orchestra with the promising goals of working toward major orchestra status it was a really devastating development. Losing health insurance was also frightening. My son was due [nine days after health insurance ended] so we had to have his birth induced early so the medical bills would be paid. Long-term members have had to fight to get this job to the place we now enjoy.”

Past Present and Future

During her 40-year tenure, Ann has served as an orchestra representative on the NSA board and Nashville Symphony League, and

Ann Richards with husband, assistant principal bassist Glen Wanner along with bassist, Kate Munagian

Ann Richards with husband, assistant principal bassist Glen Wanner along with bassist, Kate Munagian

as chair of the orchestra committee; she has won awards, received an arts grant, served as adjunct faculty for five colleges and universities, co-authored two popular books with her husband, assistant principal bassist, Glen Wanner, and served on the board of Walk Bike Nashville. Over the years Ann has performed numerous solos on flute and tin whistle; she was selected to travel to Mendoza, Argentina to represent the NSO in an orchestra exchange program; she performed twice with the NSO at Carnegie Hall; and her favorite memory was when “Luciano Pavarotti blew me a kiss in rehearsal after we performed a tricky flute/voice duet in one of his arias.” As she leaves the orchestra, Ann plans to “freelance, teach, organize chamber music concerts, spend time with my Native American Indian flutes, write and record music with my jazz guitarist son Marcus Wanner, and do volunteer work.”

Bass & 3rd Clarinetist Dan Lochrie salutes Cassie Lee

Bass & 3rd Clarinetist Dan Lochrie salutes Cassie Lee

During her 38 years in the NSO, Cassie has also been a highly respected and successful member of Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music faculty as it’s clarinet instructor and as a member of the Blair Woodwind Quintet. While she stepped back from these duties a few years ago, Cassie plans to continue teaching at Blair for one more year. Her favorite memory was the NSO’s first trip to Carnegie Hall in 2000. Next year Cassie also plans to “help a friend and neighbor renovate a beautiful old stone house he just purchased in my neighborhood.”

For 35 years Mary Helen has enjoyed working with great conductors and good friends such as Peter Oundjian and Enrique Diemecke; artists such as Jessye Norman, Gil Shaham, Andre Watts, Van Cliburn, YoYo Ma, Elmar Oliveira,

[L-R back row] - Licia Jaskunas (NSO principal harp), Michelle Lackey Collins (NSO viola), Mindy Whitely (NSO viola), Beverly Drukker (NSO 1st violin), Dan Reinker (NSO principal viola), Judith Ablon (NSO viola), Stephen Drake (NSO cello), Chris Farrell (NSO viola), ([-R middle row] – Sarah Cote (viola), Katherine Plummer (viola), Mary Helen Law (NSO viola), Laura Ross (NSO 2nd violin), [L-R front row] – Clare Yang (NSO viola), Hari Bernstein (NSO viola) [photo by Larry Borden]

[L-R back row] – Licia Jaskunas (NSO principal harp), Michelle Lackey Collins (NSO viola), Mindy Whitely (NSO viola), Beverly Drukker (NSO 1st violin), Dan Reinker (NSO principal viola), Judith Ablon (NSO viola), Stephen Drake (NSO cello), Chris Farrell (NSO viola), ([-R middle row] – Sarah Cote (viola), Katherine Plummer (viola), Mary Helen Law (NSO viola), Laura Ross (NSO 2nd violin), [L-R front row] – Clare Yang (NSO viola), Hari Bernstein (NSO viola) [photo by Larry Borden]

Fredericka von Stade and a host of others; and her favorite concerts include those with big symphonic works of Richard Strauss, Wagner, Bruckner and Mahler. She has been a Suzuki violin and viola teacher during her entire 35-year tenure with the orchestra. “I have had a nice level of success and have had many students who have developed into fine people and musicians whether they have gone into music or other careers.” She has helped raise Cornish Rex cats, and she and husband Larry Borden have turned their second house (where I lived for six years as their tenant) into an Airbnb rental to make additional income. Mary Helen plans to get her teacher trainer certification through the Suzuki Assoc. of the Americas and to continue teaching; she’ll go to the beach more often; and she has become more involved in political activism, having traveled to Washington DC for the Women’s March on January 21, 2017. She promises “I will try not to get arrested.”

Susan K. Smith

Susan K. Smith

After 23 years with the NSO, Susan says Mahler symphonies are still her favorites. Her most memorable concerts were our two concerts at Carnegie Hall, the opening of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, and the Amy Grant Tours in the late 1990s. “During my entire tenure with the NSO I have also been the Instructor of Trombone at APSU. I have always had a passion to teach and have had the privilege to work with many college trombone students. It has been a great joy to help these students realize their place in the professional world.” She is proud that many have gone on to be band directors, another is in a Navy Band, and another is Principal Trombone in ‘The President’s Own’ Marine Band. “Next year I will continue to teach students at APSU, give master classes and I also look forward to having time to travel to visit my family and friends. I definitely see more Clearwater Beach time in my future.”

“What happened with the NSO in the 20 years of my activity is way above my imagination,” according to Radu. “From a part-time

Radu Georgescu jams with his neighbor in New Mexico

Radu Georgescu jams with his neighbor in New Mexico

orchestra, it changed into a professional high-quality orchestra with a state of the art concert hall.” He played with orchestras in Cookeville and Murfreesboro, and as Principal Second Violin in the orchestra in Bowling Green. “I will never forget Kenneth’s flying batons…always wanting to express more.” Radu has already found wonderful new friends and neighbors just outside Taos, NM. He said, “By the time I was born, my family had moved to the city (Bucharest), but all my older siblings and cousins had been able to spend time in the country. Now it’s my turn.” It sounds like a wonderful and much simpler life as he described to me how he and his neighbors pitch in to help each other with projects both large and small. “I will keep on fishing and travel (my second big hobby), and number one on my list is driving to Alaska.”

Final Thoughts

All will miss their friends and colleagues in the orchestra, but also look forward to what comes next.

Radu feels blessed, having had a wonderful career participating in two new orchestras, opening two new state-of-the-art concert halls, and playing with exceptional musicians from diverse schools of playing. “I am so fortunate to be part of what I call the NSO miracle. I am confident that new generations and great conductors will carry on the legacy. Can’t see how any city in the nation can be more blessed.”

Cassie’s thoughts were for the orchestra as she expressed concern about the high standards and increased work levels musicians are expected to meet, and that the orchestra has once again turned into a “revolving door orchestra” with 50% turn over the past two years in the woodwind section due to retirements and departures for better paying jobs. “It has become harder and harder for me to hear ‘World Class Orchestra’ and ’11 Grammy Awards’ when the pay just doesn’t match up. My hope for this orchestra is, that one day, in the near future, the musicians will be paid what they are worth.”

 

– Laura Ross, NSO Union Steward (also all photos unless otherwise indicated)

Musician’s Appreciation Dinner 2017

We recently enjoyed a Musician’s Appreciation Dinner, hosted by our Governing Members Engagement Committee – many thanks to them! Besides the fabulous dinner we celebrated our new members; 10th, 15th, 20th, and 25th anniversary members, and our upcoming retirees. New Members are Alexander Blazek, Trumpet; Julia Harguindey, Principal Bassoon; and Melissa McCarthy Steinberg, Principal Librarian. Retirees will be Radu Georgescu, Violin; Mary Helen Law, Viola; Cassandra Lee, Assistant Principal Clarinet; Ann Richards, Assistant Principal Flute; and Susan K. Smith, Assistant Principal Trombone.

Musician's Appreciation Dinner

Musician’s Appreciation Dinner

Nashville Ballet at the Schermerhorn!

Normally we travel a few blocks to TPAC to accompany the Ballet, but this time it was a collaboration at our home base, the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. And what a show! It has been lauded as maybe the best program of the year, satisfying to both the audience and the artists. On the program were Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, and Copland’s Appalachian Spring. Pictures are from Laura Ross and Heather Thorne.

Photo by Heather Thorne

Photo by Heather Thorne

Photo by Laura Ross

Photo by Laura Ross

Photo by Heather Thorne

Photo by Heather Thorne

Photo by Laura Ross

Photo by Laura Ross

Photo by Heather Thorne

Photo by Heather Thorne

Violin Auditions

We just had our longest audition ever – 4 days to listen to all the candidates for 3 Second Violin openings. Here is most of the committee along with the winners. Left to Right: Louise Morrison, Roger Weismeyer, Paul (last name unknown to this writer), Jimin (last name unknown to this writer), Isabel Bartles, Jung-Min Shin, Carrie Bailey, Laura Ross, Jessica Blackwell, and Chris Farrell.

Deck the Hall!

It’s time once for again for our band of elves to decorate the hall for the holiday season!

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Our own ever-festive Associate Concertmaster Gerald Greer supplied and helped set up the trees!

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What do you call four violists Onstage at the Nashville Symphony…

What do you call four violists Onstage at the Nashville Symphony? …A good start! We had a fun time filling the hall with the sumptuous sounds of viola quartets for the Onstage Oct. 26th. We also enjoyed giving a brief history of “everything you wanted to know about the viola but were afraid to ask!” Left to right: Melinda Whitley, Michelle Lackey Collins, Clare Yang, Daniel Reinker.

4violists

Roar!!!

One of our educational ensembles performed a version of Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saens at Liberty Elementary School in Franklin this Friday. Complete with slide show! Left to right: Anna Lisa Hoepfinger, violin; Jeremy Williams, violin; Stephen Drake, cello; Clare Yang, viola; Kevin Jablonski, bass.

String Quintet