Fabulous Philadelphian Friday
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.
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