By Jennifer Montone
Without music life would be a mistake. ~Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without. ~Confucius
Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. ~Victor Hugo
As a musician, I can attest that a life in music is a wonderful blessing. All musicians agree that when one is given a gift, especially one that we love as much as we love music, along with it comes a responsibility to share that gift, widely, generously, and graciously.
Great culture in a city becomes an incentive for talented executives when they decide between two competitive jobs. Local restaurants, other arts institutions, coffee shops, bars, retail stores, all benefit from proximity to a world class arts organization. Tourism increases when people travel to Philadelphia to see our legendary orchestra. The educational benefits of exposing children to great music are undeniable.
We, the recipients of the gift of musical talent, want to and need to be the ones making sure everyone in our country has access to this beautiful, powerful entity!
We the organization that is the Philadelphia Orchestra do this with Kimmel Center children's concerts, Sound All Around programs, through our education programs in the schools, SpectaCast broadcasts to universities, nursing homes, and coffee shops, with our EZseatU program, Martin Luther King and other special outreach concerts, and with community and student rush ticket programs, to name just a few.
As individual musicians, we feel strongly that our responsibility and our potential for sharing do not have to end there. When I interviewed 15 musicians in our orchestra, this is what I heard:
DAVID KIM, CONCERTMASTER
"It's incredibly important to take music in to our schools and directly to our young people. Each season, I visit many third and fourth graders in schools both in Philadelphia and around the country. How appropriate that it is the great Philadelphia Orchestra taking our musical gifts to these kids - breaking down barriers to fine art and classical music every step of the way."
DON LIUZZI, PRINCIPAL TIMPANI
"In addition to the school visits that I do, and free lessons and coachings to some of my economically challenged All City percussionists, I feel that by working with youth orchestras and community orchestras, I can make a big difference to a large number of kids and adults who otherwise would not get that kind of exposure and training. In that spirit, I directed the All City Orchestra for ten years, (and completed a 6 city tour of Italy this past June in their 70th anniversary season), and continue assisting their work. I also help coach and conduct sectionals at the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, I greet visiting youth orchestras, welcoming them to Philly, coaching them, and showing the "Music From The Inside Out" film to them, as well as to university students, high school students, the Curtis kids, etc. The question that I always ask them to think about, is not only what do we do as musicians, but Why do we do it? What is music to you? Because the answers to those questions by our young people, and our public at large, is what is going to shape the future of music."
YUMI KENDALL, ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL CELLO
"The greatest reward as a Live Connections Bridge Session artist lies in knowing the students are actively participating in an experience of creativity through live music, movement and discovery. Who of these students will walk (or skip, or dance) out of a Bridge Session with a new awareness in herself of a skill, a passion previously dormant? Who will wake up to themselves? Whose spark will light?" -Yumi Kendall, Assistant Principal Cello, The Philadelphia Orchestra
Taken from a Live Connections Kids Count campaign, and an example of the work I do and believe in that directly connects with underserved, under-privileged students in Philadelphia. I have been a Bridge Session artist every year since 2010, and let me tell you, seeing a child's face light up with recognition, understanding, and that *fire*? That's the essence - the raison d'etre- of what I do, anytime I pick up the cello.
DAVYD BOOTH, VIOLIN
"I probably play at about 25 retirement and nursing homes a year, either in my string quartet, piano trio, or by accompanying my colleagues on my second instrument, the piano. Basically, I'm just in constant contact with the retirement communities in the area, and when they tell me what kind of concert they'd like, I help coordinate it with my colleagues to bring them an experience that they'll enjoy."
JEFF LANG, ASSOCIATE PRINCIPAL HORN
"I am very active the music ministry at my church.. There's a broad reach to it, and you get to work with musicians of all ages and inspire them . I also perform several concerts at retirement communities which I really enjoy as well. I think now, more than ever , music should serve as the worlds great communicator for peace and all musicians can share in this great responsibility."
ANGIE ZATOR-NELSON, ASSOCIATE PRINCIPAL TIMPANI
I perform in a percussion duo (with my husband) and a percussion ensemble (with my colleagues). We travel to schools multiple times a year to get students excited about classical music. For every age group there's a different approach and each experience is very rewarding. Also, percussion ensembles really get kids moving! Once children associate exciting rhythms with classical music, they're eager to hear more and want to visit the orchestra at the Kimmel Center.
DANNY MATSUKAWA, PRINCIPAL BASSOON
"I like to donate my services to school auctions. Teaching, performing, coaching... It benefits the schools and helps students, and also draws a connection between the orchestra and the community. I also do quite a few school visits every year- probably an average of between 5 and 10 a year. I enjoy working with the volunteer committees as well; playing for their meetings, which is a way to thank them for all they do for our orchestra, and to help their friends and colleagues to feel welcomed into our orchestra family."
NITZAN HAROZ, PRINCIPAL TROMBONE
"I love performing at retirement homes, and do this perhaps 5 times a year. There are so many music lovers in these communities, and it's hard for some of them to get out to the concerts and events they always have enjoyed. I also do many master classes for young musicians who would otherwise not have the access or the resources, both locally and abroad. In the past two years, I did this in Japan, China, Korea, Sweden, Israel, Canada..."
KATHY PICHT-READ, CELLO
"This spring my string quintet performed at a local Armenian church. Most of the congregation helped organize the event and the sanctuary was filled to capacity. The excitement and warmth coming from the audience was overwhelming. At the reception, many people told us this was the first chamber music concert they had ever attended and how "lifted up" they felt. I felt that we, too, were "lifted up" and embraced into this community. We all look forward to deepening and expanding our connection to this wonderful group of people."
JENNIFER MONTONE, PRINCIPAL HORN
"I find that our connection with our community and our audiences is strengthened by every opportunity we can find to step off the stage and to bring music into peoples homes and neighborhoods. To that end, I try to do as many "house-concerts" and community concerts as I can- through the Perfect Harmony auctions, for the volunteer committees, at retirement homes, libraries, parks and local churches, with local amateur orchestras, and helping other local arts organizations by performing at their benefits. It's important for musicians to be visible and accessible in our community, our neighbors and friends, and share with them what we do and love!!
SHELLEY SHOWERS, ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL HORN
"I have always enjoyed going to the schools and preparing the kids for the upcoming Kimmel Center children's concert that they will be coming to. It helps them to understand more, and to make a personal connection. The instrument demo part of that is especially cute with the little kids. I also used to do separate school concerts with a colleague of mine at the Riletta Cream School in Camden. They just don't have as much access to the arts as so many other kids their age."
LIZ HAINEN, PRINCIPAL HARP
"I founded and direct a non profit called the Lyra society, which provides musical education to gifted young musicians on a scholarship basis, and also supports the commissioning of new music featuring the harp. For the past 10 years, GLISSANDO harp program has enhanced and changed the lives of students within Philly schools, by giving them the opportunity to study a rare instrument. As a member of the great Philadelphia Orchestra, I believe I can speak on behalf of my colleagues that it is part of our civic duty to engage our community as cultural ambassadors. Whether it is sharing our talents with our patrons, performing at retirement communities or giving our time to students in the
schools, it is the pride of being a member of one of the greatest arts institutions in the world that motivates us beyond the concert hall stage."
BOB CAFARO, CELLO
"I believe that by donating my services, as a soloist for local orchestras (3 times this year, 4 concerts scheduled for next year), school visits with docents, retirement homes (around 10 times a year), and doing pre-concert talks, I can make a difference in this community. Many of us donate part of our salary back to the orchestra, to help with the health of our organization, and I also enjoy my work as volunteer committees chair, and performing at nursing homes. Every year, I spend a week in May visiting schools in Saratoga Springs. I am so grateful to this orchestra, and you know, you can only take with you what you have given!"
There are many ways for a musician to contribute to their community, bring the magic of music to their fellow man, and support the education of children. An added joy is that it reflects back onto our great orchestra- serving to ensure that the Philadelphia Orchestra is never seen as just a bunch of strangers in tuxes and patent leathers! As you can see, each musician feels passionate about the different venues and directions in which they've chosen to share their love of their art, and I believe that enthusiasm is what resonates, and what will ensure that our art form stays strong and healthy. We all truly believe that we are vested with the privilege, the honor, and the responsibility of being cultural ambassadors, for our art form, for our children's future, and for the orchestra that we are all so proud to be a part of.
September 18, 2015: Blair Bollinger, Bass Trombone
Hometown: Rochester, PA
Philadelphia Orchestra member since: 1986
What's your favorite orchestral bass trombone part?
I guess I’ll say Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony. It’s a “heavy duty, meat and potatoes” kind of part with an ethereal chorale at the end.
What's the first time you ever heard the Philadelphia Orchestra?
The first time I heard the Orchestra was in my first days as a student at Curtis in 1981; Ormandy conducted Beethoven 9. What a sound!
When did you know you wanted to play the trombone?
As a child my first instrument was piano; second was violin. Then in 5th grade the band director asked me to join. My friend, Paul, played trombone, so I chose that.
What are your hobbies?
I do a lot of genealogy; some branches of the family were in the United States in the 1600’s. I enjoy studying US history along with the family history. It’s fun to learn what life was like then.
Do you have a fun orchestra tour story?
The cargo trucks were delayed arriving in Warsaw one time so we played the concert in whatever street clothes we had on. One colleague was wearing a t-shirt saying “Who’s your Daddy?”!
Tell us about your personal brand of bass trombones!
The SE Shires Company in Hopedale, MA makes a Shires/Bollinger Model bass trombone. I came up with a different method of tuning the valves; Steve Shires asked me to work with him to incorporate that into a new model. It’s been on the market for 4 years now and is selling well!
Where do you teach?
I am very active at the Curtis Institute and Temple University. And I’ve just started my second year at the Juilliard School in NY; I teach there most Mondays when the Orchestra has a day off. Lessons, sectional rehearsals, brass choir and chamber music coaching make an engaging variety of classes.