At Dennis Buberta€™s invitation, trombonist Dave Begnoche met with Ron Barron, Norman Bolter and Douglas Yeo, the members of the Boston Symphony Orchestraa€™s trombone section for the last twenty-two years. RB I havena€™t really thought about it like that too much, but it is a length of time, like anything. DY And now there will be two people leaving, essentially at the same time, within the same season. DB Ron and Norman, you joined the orchestra a number of years before Doug, so perhaps you can talk about the evolution of the section. RB Well, Ia€™d been playing second [in the BSO] for five years before the principal opening happened in the late spring of a€™75.
NB Some things just clicked when Doug joined: there was a certain ease a€“ that ease is really what you hope for when a new member joins. DB Yes, thata€™s one thing that seems unique to this section: your long history of using different equipment a€“ different size, different sounding equipment a€“ even within the same concert. DY Thata€™s one of the things that might be a little bit different in our section, the openness to use a wide variety of different equipment.
RB We really feel strongly about that, about using instruments that fit into the string and wind texture.
DY Just as recently as last summer, the Symphony purchased a set of five trombones by Kruspe made in the a€™20s - an alto, three tenors and a bass. NB Doug heard they were for sale, and was able to persuade the BSO to buy them to match the Austro-German rotary trumpets, like the Schagerl rotaries the trumpet section currently uses.
RB Theya€™re perfect for that repertoire - they have such an integral woodwind-string component in a way that fits in more than the American brass instruments. DY All that to say, wea€™re not into the one-size-fits-all for each other or for any piece.
DB Speaking of spaces where you perform, obviously Symphony Hall here is an extraordinary space. RB You know, we never talked about it too much, but the overall sound of the orchestra a€“ the richness in the bass in Symphony Hall a€“ gives a fullness to the sound no matter whoa€™s in there.
Whata€™s fascinating to us, after all those years of Seiji saying a€?too loud, too loud,a€? now Jimmy [James Levine] is driving the strings nuts telling them to play a€?louder, louder.a€? (laughter) Ia€™m playing louder for Jimmy than I ever did for Seiji, yet wea€™re never written up in the paper for overbalancing. DB Speaking of Seiji, so often people talk about the sound of an orchestra, the sound of a section and give the conductor great credit in molding that sound, sometimes rightfully so. NB Seiji was here 28 years, I think he started in a€™73 and I started in a€™75 or something like that. NB Yes, he hired Ron for principal (but Ron was first hired by Steinberg as second in 1970), then later, me for second and Doug for bass. DB So how do you equate his influence on the orchestra as influencing the way the section plays?
NB When I think about it, and I think about players that Seiji has hired at certain times, I think he was very into the individual, if he liked a player and what they had to offer. DB a€¦as he has with a few other players, Jacques Zoon [former Principal Flute] is a very unique player. RB Of course, wea€™re mostly talking solo positions, but in general, I think thata€™s right.
DB One thing thata€™s always stood out to me is that this section has three very strong and very vibrant personalities. DY Ron has nine solo trombone albums going back to Cousins and Le Trombone FranA§ais, I have five solo albums (four on trombone and one on serpent) and five with New England Brass Band as conductor and soloist, and Norman has four. NB Each of us has found areas of interest as musicians outside the BSO that have kept us inspired and engaged as creative beings. DB It also seems that because you have been part of each othersa€™ projects and undertakings, not just observers, this has given you each a greater understanding of each other. DY I think what we are saying here is something really important and I dona€™t think something I can stress enough: our life as three members of the Boston Symphony, thata€™s not our whole life.
RB Onea€™s life experiences, and how they enrich us and change us or make us who we are at any given time cana€™t help but be reflected in the way we then deal with music as a medium of expression for who we are.
RB Therea€™s an instinct thata€™s built after twenty-two years together that is hard to describe.
DY Sitting next to each other all these years, I know how Norman breathes, he knows how I breathe, we know how Ron brings things in, we know what little rituals we go through before we play, we know which thing is a little more challenging for each of us, we know when we can lean on each other, we know when ita€™s OK to say a€?how yaa€™ doina€™ a€? - and when ita€™s a good idea not to say somethinga€¦. DY For me, and I think Ron and Norman would agree, I was very fortunate to be in this orchestra when you had some really great individual character players many of whom arena€™t playing with us anymore, players like Normana€™s uncle Sherman Walt [bassoon], Buddy Wright [clarinet], Vic Firth [timpani], Chester Schmitz [tuba].
DY People ask me a€?who were your teachersa€? and I say, a€?well, I studied with Edward Kleinhammer and Keith Brown and Chester Schmitz and Vic Firth and Joe Silverstein,a€? and the list goes on and on. DY People say days move slowly and years move quickly and I cana€™t fathom that twenty-two years have passed. DB As you look back on this era about to finish, what are some of your most memorable performances?
NB The Brahms Symphonies with Bernard Haitink were pretty magical and a there was Liszt Faust Symphony with Leonard Bernstein conducting thata€™s memorable. RB We did the DvoA™A?k Cello Concerto with Rostropovich years ago, which is something Ia€™ll never forget, and some of the Miraculous Mandarin performances with Seiji stand out, too. Norman Bolter retired in December 2007, and Ron Barron will retire at the end of Tanglewood 2008. Trombonist Dave Begnoche maintains an active career as a freelance musician and has held positions and recorded with the Joffrey Ballet Orchestra (Chicago), Albany Symphony (NY), and the Spoleto Festival Orchestra (Italy), among others. The Mystic (CT) native was recently appointed International Trombone Association Affiliates Manager and AIM Membership Coordinator.
RBA A A  I havena€™t really thought about it like that too much, but it is a length of time, like anything.
DYA A A  And now there will be two people leaving, essentially at the same time, within the same season. DBA A A  Ron and Norman, you joined the orchestra a number of years before Doug, so perhaps you can talk about the evolution of the section. RBA A A  Well, Ia€™d been playing second [in the BSO] for five years before the principal opening happened in the late spring of a€™75. NBA A A  Some things just clicked when Doug joined: there was a certain ease a€“ that ease is really what you hope for when a new member joins. DBA A A  Yes, thata€™s one thing that seems unique to this section: your long history of using different equipment a€“ different size, different sounding equipment a€“ even within the same concert. DYA A A  Thata€™s one of the things that might be a little bit different in our section, the openness to use a wide variety of different equipment. RBA A A  We really feel strongly about that, about using instruments that fit into the string and wind texture.


DYA A A  All that to say, wea€™re not into the one-size-fits-all for each other or for any piece.
DBA A A  Speaking of spaces where you perform, obviously Symphony Hall here is an extraordinary space.
RBA A A  You know, we never talked about it too much, but the overall sound of the orchestra a€“ the richness in the bass in Symphony Hall a€“ gives a fullness to the sound no matter whoa€™s in there. DBA A A  Speaking of Seiji, so often people talk about the sound of an orchestra, the sound of a section and give the conductor great credit in molding that sound, sometimes rightfully so.
NBA A A  Seiji was here 28 years, I think he started in a€™73 and I started in a€™75 or something like that. NBA A A  Yes, he hired Ron for principal (but Ron was first hired by Steinberg as second in 1970), then later, me for second and Doug for bass.
NBA A A  Each of us has found areas of interest as musicians outside the BSO that have kept us inspired and engaged as creative beings. DBA A A  It also seems that because you have been part of each othersa€™ projects and undertakings, not just observers, this has given you each a greater understanding of each other. More than anything, this is really a celebration of the section as a twenty-two year era comes to an end, with two of the three of you about to retire.
When I think I first started wanting to play in an orchestra, I really didna€™t aspire to play first. I guess thata€™s a big part of the audition process: ita€™s not just finding the best trombonist, but finding the best musician to fit your section. We were devoted enough to find the color that seemed appropriate, even if it meant trying different equipment. Not using it just for its own sake, but for the timbre we want, the conductor we know, the space wea€™re in, or other events happening in our lives.
In a previous conversation, Norman, I remember you describing the hall as an extension of your instrument. The bass sound is very intense in there, and, of course, we had Chester on tuba, with this mammoth, easy sound under us.
When you look at Berlin with Karajan or Philadelphia with Ormandy, for example, there is a certain character that is unique to them.
Seiji picked up on something that he liked which could vary with each player depending on that a€?thing.a€? I think our section is really a microcosm of that individuality. You know, I think you really need someone with a sort of extroverted confidence a€“ put the spotlight in their face and see if they can do it a€“ for these principal positions. Wea€™ve all made choices to expand the nature of our art and integrate it into the whole of our lives. I had one of the very first trombone websites on the internet (February 1996), even before Online Trombone Journal or ITA. Therea€™s been cross-pollination between the three of us and there have been a lot of individual tracks taken. There is a bond when you understand a certain wavelength beyond something that you might otherwise only experience on stage together. We have vibrant musical lives outside Symphony Hall and also really vibrant parts of our lives that have nothing to do with music at all.
And if it doesna€™t express who we are, or what wea€™re attempting to convey from the written page, then I dona€™t think ita€™s of any use - just filling up space and time, without saying anything. I know we all teach and have our own styles and approaches but one thing I know we dona€™t do is say a€?it has to be like this or that.a€? You tailor it to the person, of course, but this cookie-cutter thing for me is a€?death to arta€? - to think this piece has to be played this way. Respect for the music, respect for your colleagues (the colleagues in front of you as well as the ones next to you), and serving the music.
Just sitting between players like Norman and Chester for all these years has been a lesson. I think Ia€™ve learned staccato from every instrument of the orchestra - how to do it like a bassoon, how to do a pizz like a cello, how to be like a muted trumpeta€¦ ita€™s a spectrum thing. There was a scherzo for motorcycle and orchestra which we were practically sight reading on the recording. He has performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and has recorded with the Boston Pops under John Williams.
Dave has written articles and conducted interviews for the ITA Journal, the Brass Herald and the American Composers Forum.
On period pieces we would scale down, me on alto, Norman on a smaller bore horn, and Doug on single valve. You can actually play with the hall and I know a lot of halls are less resonant, so sections have to do things to achieve excitement and resonance through driving perhaps more than they would want to in order to achieve their musical goal.
In Symphony Hall, it can lack a little diction, so you might be able to play with a little bit leaner sound and still have the hall fill it out.
This section shares something almost unprecedented in American orchestra tenures of conductors with Seiji Ozawa, who was here the vast majority your time with the BSO. Many of these color things, at least in the trombone section, were a result of our internal activities, not so much Seiji a€“ he really left us alone.
And thata€™s whata€™s awkward about the trombone as an instrument: the trombone doesna€™t get that many chances.
It seems that the Symphony is just one facet in each of your musical lives, as can be seen with multiple solo recordings for each of you, as well as other interests.
Rona€™s recording an album of alto trombone music, Ia€™m recording with brass band, and Normana€™s recording his own compositions. Ron and Norman, too, have their own websites that are fantastic and these have given us a place to further express ourselves and share our interests with others. You mentioned being part of a greater musical community, and not just unique to a row in a box known as Symphony Hall. Yes, there are informed performance practices with any given piece, but for a student to relinquish the a€?artistic selfa€? to purely copy a dogmatic approach is dangerous. If you have the ears to hear, you will learn and if you are closed off like you know everything, you will never grow.
If you dona€™t start to think in a different spectrum and learn from all the instruments, then you can find yourself stuck. A passionate performer of contemporary music and an active teacher and clinician, Davea€™s work with Pulitzer Prize winner John La Montaine has resulted in the final version of the composera€™s Trombone Quartet (2006). You can never tell how the change of one member can impact the entire brass section, or orchestra, for that matter.
We havena€™t even lived three twenty-two year periods, so in many ways, this has been a defining portion of who we are. Being young and spirited, which I hope every young player is, circumstances led me to want to aspire to more.


You know, Doug was very open and from the beginning Ron would say a€?Hey, leta€™s try this equipment for this piecea€? or a€?a€¦ something different for that piece.a€? Even back in the a€™70s, we would play Bachs on the big pieces and Conns on some of the lighter repertoire.
The instruments wea€™ve played as our main default are simply the ones that each of us individually feels the most comfortable on. It makes a big difference, and day-in, day-out, it makes you hear differently - and makes you play differently if you allow it. I felt that my solo interests helped sustain me enough over the years that when the spotlight did come at me, I wasna€™t unprepared for it.
We have often played on each othersa€™ albums, but largely our interests have been quite varied. Then you look at the articles and arrangementsa€¦I think what Norman said is true: if you look at all the creative output, almost all self- produced, it has been something wea€™ve done because we love it. My wife and I go hiking in the wildlife parks of the west and are very involved in our church. I dona€™t care if it was a tutti passage or not, it still had something that was alive in that passage.
If you asked trombonists around the world, they wouldna€™t agree on things, so you have to take it in and make your own art.
Ita€™s like taking a photo of the Grand Canyon: it just doesna€™t come close to giving you the real picture. My first Pops season, we worked six-day weeks a€“ rehearsals in the morning, preparation for TV shows, recordings in the afternoon, concerts at night, twelve or thirteen recordings for TV shows throughout the eight weeks a€“ all that work is gone.
Dave is a founding member of trombone quartet Stentorian Consort whose debut CD Myths and Legends was released on Albany Records in August, 2007. It makes a big difference, and day-in, day-out, it makes you hear differently - and makes you play differently if you allow it.A  A bad hall is not a good thing, and there are plenty of bad halls out there. Then I went to the Munich competition in 1974, where I met Becquet, Slokar, Sluchin among others. Currently, that would be Ron playing an Edwards, Norman playing a Shires, and me playing a Yamaha. Your concept doesna€™t necessarily change, but equipment does change your overall sound, therea€™s no doubt about it. I think thata€™s tough for trombone players, because the function in the ensemble just isna€™t that soloistic.
Norman didna€™t publish a piece of his until relatively recently; hea€™s been composing since he was very young, but it wasna€™t until mid 1990s when it blossomed into what it is today. You know, ita€™s interesting because one of my principal teachers was Steven Zelmer from the Minnesota Orchestra and ironically Doug Wright, a former student of mine, took his place. Historically, the BSO directors have hired some really outstanding players, real a€?personalitiesa€? on their instruments, but the artistic goals are never compromised by their personal expression.
Today, so many kids buy this tune or that tune in a download, so we need to embrace new mediums. You have to do all that kind of stuff today, because you never know what will come out of investing in something you believe in, putting yourself out there. By the time I came back from that I felt committed to trying to play first somewhere, but I didna€™t know where it was going to be. You know, though wea€™ve been using instruments by different makers lately, blend is a curious thing, and ita€™s not unlike like paint: if youa€™re trying to make a chocolate color, you have to start with white and red and blue and you mix it together and you get one unified, blended color - it doesna€™t have to be three shades of brown.
For example, we went through an era when Doug and I were playing on Monettes and Larry Issacson, who was second in the Pops in those days, played a Monette too.
We provide the color and the accents more than the tune; wea€™re the add-ons to the texture, and once in a while we get a tune, but ita€™s not like wea€™re melody instruments in the orchestra. It wasna€™t like this was happening right away when Norman was twenty, first joining the orchestra, then - boom - all of a sudden hea€™s making solo CDs: this came later.
He [Zelmer] was very diversified: an avid gardener, huge wine collector, stamp collector, flag collector - it was unbelievable. Ia€™m sure, though, if he thought a player was coming from the love of his piece and the genuineness of that love and that was coming through in their playing he would say a€?thank you,a€? right? Just look at the section: next to our families, wea€™ve probably spent more time with each other than sometimes a lot of family.
Those new mediums dona€™t provide the same visceral relationship between humans a€“ ita€™s not the same thing. I would have to say if they are walking into an orchestra position, dona€™t think ita€™s going to be the be-all and end-all and the only thing in life. He would have dinners and make sure we had the right wine the right cigar and the right flag was outside. I think we figured out that ita€™s been something like 20,000 hours together minimum; thata€™s a lot of time.
Take the other richness of your life and try to put into the orchestra because it will make that experience more meaningful and put it into perspective. You know, I always looked at the term a€?talenta€? as a€?desirea€?: there has to be an aptitude at some level, but that wona€™t get you very far. I feel like Ia€™m getting out of the orchestra at a time when ita€™s facing more challenges than when I came in. You have to have the wherewithal and desire to stay on target, whether ita€™s that or anything else. Seiji was excited to have his first new players, and the trombones had a lot of visibility. Boston is fortunate because of the structure we have with Symphony, Pops, and Tanglewood, which helps make it financially stable.
Above all, never think there is only one way to play, because then you will be eating your own words when you have to change mouthpieces as your physiology changes, or [change] technical style when your breathing changes with age. I never had in my mind that I would cultivate a particular type of sound a€“ ita€™s just what seems comfortable or natural for the repertoire. Gordon Hallberg was bowing out around the time Norman came in, and really we had many years of alternates in the bass chair before Doug joined. I think a lot of times, players think that they need to stick with this or that, no matter how they feel, and that can shorten a lot of careers for a number of reasons. A Soy 44 pct planted vs 61 ave.A Iowa and Illinois both 40 pct planted vs 83 and 53 pct ave. All information is provided on an as-is basis.i»? This is a personal website and is not affiliated with any commercial grain entity.



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