What experiences led you to become a conductor and educator?
None of my experiences led me to this. I was serving as principal clarinetist for the The Miami Philharmonic when the orchestra went on strike, and I was out of a job. I needed money, so I left my job selling clothes in a department store to teach clarinet at university. Part of the job involved conducting the university's clarinet choir. Although I didn't like it - a clarinet choir sounds like a bunch of radiators stuffed into a room - I found out then that I enjoyed conducting.
How did you come to serve as conductor of UW Chamber Orchestra?
I came to UW-Madison as conductor of the Wind Ensemble. Eventually they hired me to conduct Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra. Then when the conductor of University Opera retired, I got the spot, and discovered I was lucky to conduct such wonderful music. I began conducting UW Chamber orchestra in 2005 after longtime UW Orchestras director David Becker left this position.
In addition to your role as a conductor, you are also an accomplished clarinetist. Which role do you enjoy more, instrumentalist or conductor, and why?
I can't be sure. From my early teens, I wanted to play clarinet in a symphony orchestra. I enjoyed it immensely. If the Berlin Philharmonic offered to take me on as their clarinetist, I would go. I feel my career as a clarinet player was truncated, and I never had the chance to play in a truly great orchestra.
How does your training as an orchestral musician inform your work as a conductor?
It helps me understand that it's not easy to play well every day. I just have to assume that everyone in the orchestra is doing their best to play well.
What has been your oddest concert experience to date?
I was performing in Long Island, New York. We were set to play a piece called March Electric, when the lights went out due to a power outage.
UW Chamber Orchestra will be playing the Beethoven Triple Concerto with the Eroica Trio. What other pieces are on the evening's program?
We'll open the concert with "The Good-Humoured Ladies", a piece in five movements taken from sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti and arranged by Vincenzo Tommasini. It's very popular as a ballet work. We will also perform Charles Ives Symphony no. 3 "The Camp Meeting." This piece will challenge the audience a bit. Several church revival hymns are embedded into this piece, some very obvious to the listener, some less so.
What do you hope the members of UW Chamber orchestra will gain from the experience of playing with a professional chamber ensemble?
A lot. A sense of validation that they can play with a world-class string trio.
What do you hope your audience will learn from the performance?
That it's okay to come to these student performances. UW-Madison Orchestras have more interesting programs than other local orchestras because, unlike them, we don't have to sell tickets.
Theater Committee Director