THE FACTS: Born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Attended the Curtis Institute of Music, studying with Max Aronoff and Joseph de Pasquale. At the Philharmonic: Joined May 1976. Most recent recording: Brahms’s Clarinet Quintet with former Principal Clarinet Stanley Drucker.
EARLY MUSICAL MEMORIES: Listening to my parents practice: my mother played the piano and my father played the clarinet professionally for a while and then took over the family farms. I began studying violin at age ten and switched to viola when I started at Curtis. I liked its sonority.
WERE YOU INVOLVED IN ANY EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES IN SCHOOL? I studied and practiced. I was definitely a hermit!
WHEN DID YOU KNOW THAT YOU WANTED TO BE A PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN? I was lucky to grow up in a town that had a good string program. By high school I was hooked on music.
MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT WITH THE ORCHESTRA: When the Berlin Wall came down, Leonard Bernstein conducted a multinational orchestra in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Eight of us from the Philharmonic participated.
IF YOU COULD PLAY ANOTHER INSTRUMENT, WHAT WOULD IT BE? When I was in first grade, we had a rhythm orchestra and I was the conductor. My conducting post was supposed to be an honor, but what I really wanted to do was play the tambourine!
YOU WERE THE FOCUS OF A RECENT AWARD-WINNING DOCUMENTARY: In 2016 I appeared in a documentary called Feral Love by filmmaker Markie Hancock. It chronicles my 13 years of feeding feral cats beneath the West Side Highway and my 42 years as a violist in the New York Philharmonic. It won accolades in four film festivals and is currently being streamed on Amazon, iTunes, and Vimeo. I feel enormous personal satisfaction that through the film I can share my love of music and animals.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR OTHER ANIMAL WELFARE WORK: Seventeen years ago Associate Principal Cello Eileen Moon- Myers and I co-founded The Artemis Project, a non-profit animal organization that helps stray and abused animals. Working with Lincoln Square Veterinary Hospital, Artemis has provided medical care and found loving homes for hundreds of animals. It’s great to see the huge difference we’ve made in their lives. The icing on the cake is seeing how much our animals enrich the lives of the people who adopt them.
As of May 2018