One of the reasons, I believe, that I was interested in the cello from a very young age is the fact that the cello is an ensemble instrument; we play with others. Later, when I wanted to be a professional musician it was because I loved the music so much; it uplifted my spirit, it inspired my imagination, and it was solace to the heart. I have always thought of this first. The fact that I have enjoyed being one of the select, few solo cellists in the last 40 years is certainly a gift. But, that’s a byproduct and not a goal, whether I became “famous” died out in my mind at about age 11.
So when the opportunity comes around to take part in a section, I’m always happy to take advantage. It doesn’t happen as often and under the right circumstances as much as I would like but one recent occasion came around to participate in the LA Opera’s production of the Ring Cycle. I happened to be free and this would offer the chance to play alongside my wife and so many other wonderful colleagues.
What greater joy than to partake in recreating this monumental masterpiece that I have not been able to do in my life! For sure, I played some of the orchestral excerpts with Szell in the Cleveland orchestra in the early 70’s. It is only the second Immolation scene that I have played. That was a few summers ago with Donald Runnicles and Christine Brewer at the Grand Teton Music festival and it was an absolutely unforgettable experience. And I will even say that sometimes as a soloist I am frustrated that I can only do the solo part!
But, I suppose there are people who cannot imagine that someone in my position would not want to be in the spotlight all the time. Well, the answer to that is a resounding “no.” I would prefer, really, if the listener is confronted with the MUSIC! It has enriched my life immeasurably and that I have gotten such credit along the way is only peripherally meaningful. I am free to play only this one of the four.
I told Placido Domingo the Musical Director of the company, that I was so sorry not to play the Walkure! I said, “I’d make that storm at the beginning have basketball-sized rain drops!!” Hopefully, that opportunity will come around sooner than later.