Dick’s Forum – No. 10
The Redlands Symphony Orchestra is a professional symphony and I played violin with them for about eight years, including the time I was working on my masters degree at the University of Redlands. I have been blessed to be associated with outstanding musicians and colleagues during my careers both in law enforcement and music. Maestro Jon Robertson the conductor of the orchestra is one of those people.
His quick and intense energy, wit, and intelligence, infused every rehearsal and performance. Often conducting major works from memory, without a score there was no question he had prepared himself to a razor’s edge and expected the same from each member of the orchestra. During his illness with cancer we were concerned about his well being and the future of the orchestra. He would come to our rehearsals, say a few words about his treatments and off we would go as if nothing was amiss. I learned a great deal from Dr Robertson, much of it about music, more about how to live my life.
Those years I spent at the front of the second violin section with leader and friend Dr. Art Svenson and stand partner Bill Alpert are among the brightest of my musical memories. To play second fiddle to the likes of concert masters Todor Pelev and later Palvel Farkas and other violinists of the orchestra was a proud time for me. Those cats could play and I was one of them!
The other positions in the orchestra were filled by some of the finest musicians in the area, many from Los Angeles and Hollywood. There on the stage in the midst of all those players I had one of the best seats in the House. We string players joined by the wind players on their oboes, clarinets, flutes, and the brass players with their trumpets, trombones, tubas, and the percussion players, together we were creating intricate rhythms beyond imagination. There were glorious harmonies, with everyone playing their heart out and Maestro Robertson leading us with his intensity. I remember more than once in the midst of those concert moments muttering a silent prayer, “Lord, since I have to die someday anyhow, could it be at a moment like this.” It is as close to heaven on earth as I have been.
It was a grand time for me. I rehaired bows for many of the string players and their students. Having that skill placed me among that group of luthiers (people who work on and make instruments played on the string) that had that seemingly mystical skill. Hence, I was in demand.
It was also the time I finished my Master of Music degree in Violin Performance at the University of Redlands.