Sunday, January 16, 2011


Tonight while I attended Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra's performance of German Masterworks at Nordstrom Hall, I couldn't help but sense that the void left by the demise of the Northwest Chamber Orchestra has been filled at last. It pleased me to watch and listen as this talented group of musicians, under the energetic leadership of founder and Music Director Geoffrey Larson, offered the completely packed hall a program of Beethoven, Schumann, and Brahms. The ensemble, comprised of young professionals who have each earned numerous accolades including competition awards, is relatively new to the local scene. I believe the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra has an exciting future ahead.

Paul Shure
As I sat listening in the audience, I recalled many of my own rich and varied past experiences as a chamber orchestra player, for to me, there is almost nothing in music more gratifying. In 1978, as a newly elected member of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, I received my first taste of participating in a small ensemble. I was only nineteen years of age and had much to learn in terms of blending and diffusing my sound and style to match my veteran colleagues, but loved the work. The concertmaster of LACO, Paul Shure, who sadly passed away on December 8, 2010 at the age of 89, let it be known during my first probational year that I would have to tame my individual tendencies if I expected to remain within the group. Not infrequently, Paul would turn back, look at me, and say: Someone's holding the note too long. Or.  One person in the section is playing on the string while the rest of us are off. Later.  You know, all it takes is one to ruin it for the rest of us. After a sideways glance in my direction. By the way, no open E's.

I learned.

So, it was with trepidation that I reconnected with Paul Shure years later after he and his violinist wife, Bonnie Douglas, originally from Seattle, relocated and retired here. Paul had long been an admirer of my husband's violin playing and musicianship, having recommended Ilkka for the principal position of LACO and helped to establish his career in the film recording industry. I never imagined that Paul would become a devoted supporter and guide to me as well in my capacity as both soloist and first chair player for the Northwest Chamber Orchestra and Pacific Northwest Ballet. Whenever he and his wife Bonnie attended my performances, they would appear backstage with congratulatory words and gestures. Praise from Paul meant a great deal to me; unlike many others in this profession where superficiality reigns, Paul's manner was reliable and sincere; his knowledge, vast.

Paul Shure's career was laudable. After graduating with honors from Curtis Institute, he became the youngest member of the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski and Eugene Ormandy. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, then became concertmaster for the Hollywood Bowl Symphony and was invited by Alfred Newman to join the 20th Century Fox studio recording orchestra. Paul was an original member of the Hollywood String Quartet which gained international acclaim through concerts and recordings. He performed under the batons of many legendary conductors, including Arturo Toscanini, Bruno Walter, Fritz Reiner, Igor Stravinsky, Pierre Boulez, Neville Marriner and William Steinberg. Paul was also concertmaster for the most sought after film composers, including Charles Fox, Bill Conti, Gerald Fried, Ernest Gold, Bernard Hermann, John Williams, and Jerry Goldsmith. In 1997, he was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Classical Recording Publications and Critic's Society, and accepted the award in Cannes, France.

I feel privileged to have worked with Paul Shure, and grateful for all he taught me, which hopefully I too can pass along.

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