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On the Cover: George Curran

“We could be soloists on our instruments, but we choose to sing together in one voice.” — George Curran

Kicking off a season highlighting the All-Stars of the New York Philharmonic is Philharmonic Bass Trombone George Curran. You can find George onstage sitting in the back row, between Principal Tuba Alan Baer and trombone David Finlayson — which is fitting, because his instrument plays for both team trombone and team tuba.

But George didn’t get his start on trombone. In fact, unlike many professional musicians, who start playing their instrument at a very young age, George switched to trombone at the age of 22, after flirting with a career in engineering. Fortunately for Philharmonic audiences, he followed his heart and his passion for performing.

George’s switch to trombone led him to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, where he performed in a brass section with Christopher Martin, Colin Williams, and Richard Deane. 

Check out George’s Q & A video (above) to learn more about his nerdy interests (spoiler alert: he loves Star Wars) and why he finds the New York Philharmonic brass section so special.

In September and October you can find George on the cover of Playbill as well as featured on the Philharmonic’s social media channels. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Tumblr for more!

In November we will feature cellist Ru-Pei Yeh. 

Learn more about George Curran

On the Cover: Music Director Alan Gilbert

“Once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker. My heart will always be here.” — Alan Gilbert

Alan Gilbert takes his final bows in New York City as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic this month, starting with three performances of Wagner’s Das Rheingold featuring former Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence and friend Eric Owens as Wotan, June 1–6. He will also lead the Philharmonic joined by musicians from orchestras around the world for Alan Gilbert Season Finale: A Concert for Unity, June 8–10. Finally, Alan Gilbert says goodbye to the people of New York in the final Concerts in the Parks of his tenure, June 13–18.

Watch Alan’s Q & A video, above, in which he reflects on his time at the Philharmonic and in New York over the past eight seasons, and looks toward the future.

Stay tuned for more about Alan on the Philharmonic’s social media this month.

On the Cover: David J. Grossman

“I was drawn to the bass because it’s the foundation.” — David J. Grossman

This month’s cover musician, bassist David J. Grossman, found himself drawn to the bass not just for practical reasons (he’s tall!), but he also liked the fact that he was part of the rhythmic and harmonic foundation of the orchestra.

In fact, David’s connection to the foundation of the Philharmonic’s bass section can be traced back to 1880. He studied with current Philharmonic bassist Orin O’Brien, who studied with former Philharmonic Principal Bass Frederick Zimmermann, who studied with former Philharmonic Principal Bass Herman Reinshagen, who studied with former Philharmonic Principal Bass Ludwig Manoly. David continues to share the legacy of these great bassists in his teaching at the Manhattan School of Music.

Watch David’s Q&A video, above, to learn more about his artistic influences and his affinity for jazz.

David will take over our Instagram later this month, so follow along! And queue those Qs — he’ll be live on Twitter responding to your questions later this month. And finally, subscribe to our Spotify channel, where David will curate a playlist of his favorite music.

Stay tuned: June will feature Music Director Alan Gilbert in his final concerts in New York as Music Director.

Learn more about bassist David J. Grossman.

On the Cover: Duoming Ba

Violinist Duoming Ba is proof positive of the power of kindness.

Originally from rural China, Duoming was performing a solo with her youth orchestra when a music lover in the audience recognized her talent. This benefactor went on to sponsor her education in America at the Curtis Institute of Music and loaned her the instrument she currently plays.

Duoming has certainly made good on this benefactor’s generosity. She finished her studies in 2003 and won a spot in the New York Philharmonic, where she has been playing ever since.

Watch Duoming Ba’s video Q&A above to hear more about her story — and to find out the trick to getting the full violin section to play perfectly in sync!

Follow us on Instagram later this month when Duoming takes over during the Philharmonic’s EUROPE / SPRING 2017 tour.

Stay tuned: May will feature bassist David J. Grossman.

Learn more about violinist Duoming Ba.

On the Cover: Anthony McGill

Life could have turned out very differently for Principal Clarinet Anthony McGill. As with so many instrumentalists, fate intervened for Anthony when he was discouraged from playing the saxophone and handed a clarinet instead. He fell in love with the instrument, and the rest is history.

Anthony has been with the New York Philharmonic for just over two seasons, but he has already accomplished a lot. Anthony made his New York Philharmonic solo debut with Nielsen’s Clarinet Concerto (the recording of which can be heard on the fourth release of the Philharmonic’s The Nielsen Project, released by Dacapo) and performed Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto as part of the Concerts in the Parks and on the floor of the UN General Assembly.

You may have also seen him in performance at former President Barack Obama’s first inauguration. Anthony became part of history when he performed alongside Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, and Gabriela Montero on that winter day in 2009. And you may have heard him at The Metropolitan Opera, where he served as principal clarinet for a decade.

Check out the video Q&A above for more about Anthony’s inspirations, view of life on stage versus the pit, and the momentous phone call inviting him to perform at the Inauguration.

Follow us on Instagram for the inside track on the woodwind section when Anthony takes it over for a day this month.

Stay tuned: next month we’ll feature violinist Duoming Ba.

Learn more about Principal Clarinet Anthony McGill.

On the Cover: Mindy Kaufman

“You really get to know your colleagues, and it’s such a special experience to develop friendships through our music. I think that’s why I went into music in the first place.” — Mindy Kaufman

Flute and piccolo player Mindy Kaufman has one of the best seats in the house, and in some pieces she has time to enjoy it. In Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4, for example, Mindy does not play a note for 30 minutes. During that time she enjoys the music around her, silently preparing for her big solo piccolo moment (one of the most famous in the repertoire).

Watch Mindy’s video Q&A above to find out more about her 38-year career at the Philharmonic, from her most memorable moments to some surprising facts. (There’s a good chance you’ve heard Mindy perform, even if you have yet to attend a Philharmonic concert!)

Follow us on Instagram for photos of Mindy as she prepares for the first program of Beloved Friend — Tchaikovsky and His World: A Philharmonic Festival with conductor Semyon Bychkov. Stay tuned: next month we’ll feature Principal Clarinet Anthony McGill.

Learn more about flute and piccolo player Mindy Kaufman.

On the Cover: Concertmaster Frank Huang

“It’s not every day that you get to take a selfie with Oprah.”

Concertmaster Frank Huang, October’s On the Cover musician, is recalling highlights from last season, his first in the chair. Another was the very next night, when he mastered R. Strauss’s daunting solos in Ein Heldenleben. The most meaningful? Having his family in the audience. It was the culmination of years of dedication — and the start of a new chapter.

Watch Frank reflect on his experience with the New York Philharmonic in the video above. Later this month, we’ll check in with Frank as he prepares for his solo performances of Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1, October 27–November 1, and as he navigates life with a brand-new baby girl.

Catch it all on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

The second season of On the Cover will focus on six Philharmonic musicians who are ready for their close-ups. Next month it’s Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps as she prepares for the New York Premiere of Julia Adolphe’s viola concerto, Unearth, Release, conducted by incoming Music Director Jaap van Zweden.

Learn more about Concertmaster Frank Huang.

On the Cover: Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps

“Once I [got] a viola it was clear that it was an instrument that really spoke to me. I felt that I could draw a sound out that I really loved.” — Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps

Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps, November’s On the Cover musician, has an important job within the Orchestra. She not only draws out a velvety sound on all the big viola solos in the symphonic repertoire, she also elicits a unified sound from the viola section. To do that, she works behind the scenes — deciding on bowings, liaising with the conductor — and leads the section to keep everyone together rhythmically and stylistically in real time. Watch her Q&A video above for more!

This month Cynthia Phelps steps out of her Principal seat and into the hot seat — the soloist position. She’ll perform the New York Premiere of Julia Adolphe’s Unearth, Release, conducted by future Music Director Jaap van Zweden, November 17–19.

Join the conversation: Cynthia will take over the Philharmonic’s Instagram Wednesday, November 16, for the first rehearsal of Julia Adolphe’s new viola concerto. On Tuesday, November 22, we will post Cynthia’s curated playlist to sing along to on your holiday travels. And lastly, on Tuesday, November 29, Cynthia answers your questions on Facebook.

Next month we feature Philharmonic trumpet player Ethan Bensdorf, just in time for the beloved annual Holiday Brass concert!

Learn more about Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps.

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