Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Retirement (Not)

I have a great deal of admiration for violinist, Emanuel Borok. This morning I read his philosophy about stepping down from the concertmaster chair with Dallas Symphony Orchestra, after having served for twenty-five years. "Retiring is the wrong word," admits Borok. "I'm just making a change in my life. If you do this for 40 years, 39 of them as concertmaster, you get to the point that you want to do something else that you enjoy. I get more invitations to play concertos and recitals and chamber music than my schedule allows. This is another phase of my artistic life."

These are helpful words for any of us who have departed from an orchestral scene to full-time teaching.
Over the years, Borok's studio has thrived. "This is what I would end up doing anyway, so why not start building up a class now rather than at a later point?" Borok is on the faculty of both Southern Methodist University's Meadows School of the Arts, and University of North Texas. 

Seattle violinist Emily Cole, a former pupil of my husband's, is among Borok's current crop of students. She shares these thoughts about her mentor:  
The sound Mr. Borok produces on his violin is stunning. He is always searching for the most expressive bowing, the cleanest fingerings, and the best sound quality; he's always eager to share his discoveries with students. In teaching, Mr. Borok has developed a unique vocabulary to describe what he's after; he isn't merely recycling another person's explanations. Emanuel Borok cares for his students and is invigorated by teaching.

As I obsessively and compulsively edit Frantic the Memoir , chew my nails, and revisit scenes from my childhood, I have vivid recollections of both Emanuel Borok, who spent eleven years as concertmaster of the Boston Pops after emigrating from Moscow, Russia, and Joseph Silverstein, then concertmaster of Boston Symphony. It is heartening to know that both of these wonderful violinists continue to make themselves accessible to young musicians through teaching and concertizing. They are more active than ever; masters who serve as vital links from past to future.

My late violin teacher, Sarah Scriven, pointed out at a Boston Symphony concert, circa 1968, while I sat with her at the age of nine:
You know, darling. That Joseph Silverstein gets better all the time. He keeps improving with age.

That's the key.
cartoon by Kari Suomalainen, Finland

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