Monday, July 21, 2008

The Final Bow at Tanglewood

Well, that's that. My "official" final Boston Symphony Orchestra bow at Tanglewood. Curious, because it was at Tanglewood, in fact, that I first saw and heard the BSO live, exactly 40 years ago, with my dear father. A lot has happened in between these two events.

Yesterday was quite a scene. Four brass players, from each section of the brass, retired--myself and Ronald Barron from the low brass, Peter Chapman from the trumpets, and Danny Katzen from the horn section. That must be a BSO record, that many brass players leaving at one time. (Doug Yeo caught the bow photo on his cell phone.)

After the bows, there was a party and it was very touching to hear and feel the different sentiments from the people who are staying on about the people who are leaving, and from the "retirees" about their time spent in the orchestra. Lots of value and sentiment, with some quite unique styles in the manner in which those feelings where expressed!

Doug Yeo offered me a heartfelt tribute and a collection of very special serious gifts (including amazing handwritten historical manuscripts), practical gifts (including a gas card for an upcoming adventure I'll write about soon) and some humorous gifts (including Wallace and Gromit action figures, characters we both enjoy!). It was great!

Ron offered some thoughtful gifts too, including a live demonstration of one of the gifts he gave me, which Carol now calls the "Throw Bone." Ron took an old trombone he got, online or somewhere, out of its case and threw it, quite a long distance, out of the tent where we were having the party! I couldn't believe it! Here is a picture Carol took of me trying to play it after that happened. The slide wouldn't even move!

Then it was Ron's turn to be honored. Inspired by Ron's passionate and extensive research into Camille Saint-Saens (his relationship with the trombone and the BSO connection within that) and including the fact that Ron is in the process of writing a book about it, I was moved to 'help' his research by 'discovering' the animal Saint-Saens forgot to include in his "Carnival of the Animals." So, I gave Ron an unusual stuffed animal and wrote a piece for solo trombone, dedicated to Ron, called " The Forgotten Animal (The One Saint-Saens Forgot)." It's quite a humorous piece and has some 'hidden' quotes in it. It calls for extensive Harmon mute techniques and I know Ron will do it up GREAT.

Before I knew it, it was done. Farewell, BSO! Good luck to all the musicians and new trombone players. I was glad to have been a part of the orchestra, especially in the early years when my mentors were in it: Sherman Walt, Harold Wright, Chester Schmitz, Armando Ghitalla, Vic Firth and Charles Schlueter. What an honor!

I hope the BSO musicians will not let the wrapping paper of perfection distort the actual message and communication possibilities that I was so inspired by when I heard my mentors and the section I got to play with.

I want to include a special thanks to my wife, Carol, who over the past 19 years has been an incredible support and inspiration in a most profound way. I also have been fortunate to have had other family members, friends and teachers be supportive over the years. I consider myself very fortunate and am filled with gratitude.


Unknown said...

Congratulations Norman! I look forward to reading about where life takes you from here! And thanks for being a wonderful teacher and human being!!

Anonymous said...

Not everyone gets to have the appropriate sendoff when they retire. So many people who were in my life have gone without the party and accolades they deserved. Congratulations, Norman, on getting the recognition, gifts and praise you deserve. Being recognized in your lifetime is a gift in and of iself.