Talk about a tuba player!

Hi everyone,

Saturday night Sandy and I went to the Springfield Symphony to hear a guest appearance by Gene Pokorny, principal tuba player for the Chicago Symphony since 1989. During the course of his performance of CONCERTO FOR TUBA AND ORCHESTRA and BLUE BELLS OF SCOTLAND, Pokorny did things that no normal tuba would ever aspire to. Our friends, Dr. Yates and Mrs. Janet Trotter made Pokorny’s appearance possible. We’re grateful.

Sandy landed us tickets in the second row so we could watch the guest artist’s artistry up close, a real boon. As I watched the faces of the musicians, I was reminded of those days in my early life when I, too, was privileged to sit in the symphony. I was selected when I was in high school and became principal trombonist before I was twenty. Those memories mean a lot to me. I have a picture hanging on my office wall. Here’s a picture of it. It didn’t turn out well but that’s me with my brown hair sticking up, in the center of the back row. My longtime friend Jim Shannon is on my left. He and I were friends and rivals for first chair from junior high school on. Jim went on to a distinguished career as a musician and teacher and we remain in touch.
We rehearsed on Tuesday nights. As I recall we were paid $1.25 per rehearsal and $2.50 per concert. I could be wrong. Maybe it was $2.50 and $7.50. Anyway, not much. Jim, if you read this and remember what we were paid, I hope you’ll join in. The point of being a musician is rarely about money. It’s about the joy of being good at something, surrounded by others who are good too. Last night made me want to go the closet, get my horn out of its case, and just hold it for a while. The chops are long gone. But not the memories.

6 comments on “Talk about a tuba player!

  1. You wrote,”The point of being a musician is rarely about money. It’s about the joy of being good at something, surrounded by others who are good too.”
    Isn’t the same true for children’s poets? The point of being a children’s poet is rarely about the money. It is about the joy of creating verses and sharing them with others. And we get the extra bonus of having other fun children’s poets to hang out with.

    • You’re right, Joy. I think that’s one reason why workshops are popular. And why anthologies are appreciated by the poets as well as their readers.

  2. Ol’ Garrison Keillor had a PHC skit once about the importance of music; it had to do w/ a wife & hubby on the bust-up, but neither willing to give up the church choir. Moral: Music – sometimes it’s the only way folks are willing to be that close to you.
    And you get to toot your own horn.

    • Ha! Leave it to that fertile mind of Keillor. I used to fall asleep in choir and my mother, several rows over and on the other side of the pipe organ, would start a wave of nudges that would finally land on my shoulder and awaken me.

  3. David, loved your comments regarding the Springfield Symphony Orchestra concert. I had already moved away from Springfield by the time this photo was taken but as I recall we were paid $5 per rehearsal and $12.50 per concert. Big Money! I have played in semi-professional orchestras in Boston and Cincinnati and was never paid anything but we all did it because we just wanted to play music. Making music was its own reward.

    • Hi Donna! It’s good to hear from you. And thank you for remembering our pay. Jim doesn’t remember and obviously I was off in my thinking. Heck, we were in the big time! And finally, yes, making music was its own reward. I hope things are good with you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s