Monday, September 7, 2009

Special Tribute

One of the benefits of creating a blog is that you have your own media platform. So, although I was not invited to share reflections of my former colleague and collaborator, Gerard Schwarz, in the local paper, no worries; my laptop awaits. The only quote from an orchestra member was from an old flute player (one has to wonder why); I suppose it was like asking Donald Rumsfeld for his opinion of Dick Cheney.

Our paths crossed briefly in 1973, at the Tri-State Music Festival in Enid, Oklahoma. I was the featured soloist with a youth orchestra performing Saint-SaĆ«ns "Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso". Gerard Schwarz appeared as a twenty-something-year-old trumpeter with the American Brass Quintet on the same program. As happens with musicians, worlds meet and, not infrequently, collide. When I turned nineteen, lost in the commercial maelstrom known as Los Angeles, I wandered into an audition for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Word had it that a young, talented trumpet player was to replace Sir Neville Marriner. He was an ambitious, well-connected brass player-turned-conductor, a fellow who appeared to want to be liked by all, and introduced himself as Jerry. His future was pledged in gold with backers rooting for him on both coasts. Schwarz and I realized that we had met years before at Tri-State, and with that revelation, we struck up an immediate rapport. My first professional contract was offered, and the new maestro placed me in the second violin section. I was raw and inexperienced in section playing, having concentrated mainly on solo repertoire. And it was in LACO that, after being reprimanded at least a hundred times for sticking out, I became enamored with the chamber orchestra literature enough to pursue this very course in years ahead, as a concertmaster for Seattle's now defunct Northwest Chamber Orchestra. Works such as Barber's Adagio, Diamond's Rounds, and Grieg's Holberg Suite sharpened my ensemble skills and led me on a whole different path to a form of what I'd describe as disciplined individuality. 

My professional years in Los Angeles, and later New York, is material not for a blog entry, but a personal memoir. Suffice to say, I followed Schwarz's baton in many settings: Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (having ascended to the first violin section after one season), Waterloo Festival, White Mountain Festival, New York Chamber Symphony, and as a regular ringer for Seattle Symphony, while my husband served as concertmaster for over twenty years. I recount Schwarz's early years, especially before wife number three, with fondness. There was a certain charm factor in his willingness to seek answers to his questions, or the invitation for healthy debate, his youthful ability to shrug off retorts from players, no matter how snippy and sarcastic. That was before he perfected the art of retaliation.

"I am forward looking," says Schwarz at this juncture in his career. And that is a good thing, because as they say in this cruel business, Gerard Schwarz's future is behind him.
Painting of Schwarz by Roy Munday

No comments:

Post a Comment