The Facts: Born in Marlboro, Vermont. Attended the University of Massachusetts; received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Juilliard School. Served as co-principal cellist of Orpheus and principal cellist of the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra from 1984 to 1997. At the Philharmonic: Joined in 1997. Chairman of the Chamber Music Committee and a member of the Pension Committee. Adjunct Professor at The Juilliard School. Recordings include Elliott Carter’s Oboe Quartet (Bridge Records), nominated for a Grammy Award.
Earliest musical memory: My mother teaching my four siblings and me to sing together — in German and French. I started cello lessons at eight. My father thought that a scratchy, out-of-tune beginning cellist would be less painful to listen to than a violinist. I was enrolled with the Green Mountain Fiddlers — an organization set up by the Vermont Symphony to train young string players. My first teacher, Stan Eukers, was a violinist.
Who was your most important musical influence? Leopold Teraspulsky, my teacher at the University of Massachusetts. He was the first person to teach me how to take apart a piece of music, phrase by phrase, and he showed enormous patience with my endless, challenging teenage questions.
We understand you had another important influence in your early professional career: For three years in the early 1980s I toured with Harvey Pittel, the dean of American classical saxophone players. He insisted that I play a solo every night, that I learn to speak to the audience, dress well, look the part, show enthusiasm, and greet the audience after every concert. What great lessons for a young musician just getting started!
What were some of your high school activities? I played in three community orchestras. I also played soccer, sang in chorus, skied every weekend, and — at my sister’s insistence — learned to juggle and ride a unicycle.
Tell us about your passion for contemporary music: As a teenager I was exposed to contemporary and experimental music and was taught to listen with an open mind. It’s interesting and challenging, and it makes earlier styles easier to play by stretching one’s ability to hear and appreciate complexity in music.
You also perform regularly with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Saratoga Chamber Players: I think I always come back from these situations with renewed appreciation for the Philharmonic. In a recital or chamber setting, I learn a lot from being able to really hear myself and from being responsible for the shape of the music and the success of the concert.
Are there any other musicians in your family? My four siblings all enjoy music, but none became professional musicians.
As of April 2019