Tuesday, September 02, 2014

SF Symphony Personnel Updates

SFS has announced personnel changes for the coming season. I'll save the most interesting for last.

In the violin section:
  • Dan Carlson is named Principal Second Violin.
  • Paul Brancato continues as Acting Associate Second Violin.
  • John Chisolm and Chen Zhao are Co-Acting Assistant Second Violins.
  • Elina Lev joins as a section second violinist.
  • Sarah Knutson continues as a one-year substitute.
In the trumpets, Mark Grisez is a one-year substitute as Acting Associate Principal Trumpet. 

In the trombones, Tim Owen is a one-year substitute in the new position of Acting Associate Principal Trombone.

In the timpani, Alex Orfaly continues as a one-year substitute as Acting Associate Principal Timpani. (Remember, auditions are scheduled for next month.)

Here's the most interesting part: there is not yet an appointment as principal oboe. Instead, "various musicians will perform with the oboe section throughout the season."
  • Jonathan Fischer ("currently on leave from the Symphony") will be one of the guests. (He is on leave as second oboe while playing first oboe in the Houston Symphony, and was acting principal for much of last year.)
  • Jeffrey Rathbun, Assistant Principal of the Cleveland Orchestra, will play principal during the SFS US tour in November.
  • Eugene Izotov will play principal for the first two weeks of the season before his season with the Chicago Symphony, where he is principal oboe, starts.
  • Chris Gaudi continues as Acting Associate Principal.
Okay. Fischer is obviously a known quantity to the orchestra and MTT. The longer stints by Rathbun and Izotov, though not billed as tryouts, give the orchestra and MTT a closer look at two obviously accomplished oboists and how they might fit in. 

We shall see.


nobleviola said...

Eugene was also previously a member of the SFS as I believe Assistant principal oboe.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Indeed he was, and left for a stint at the Met before taking the CSO job. I know this only from my email; a friend mentioned him to me some months ago. (I must have seen the SFS when he was here, but I didn't follow along with a scorecard back then.)

Daniel Wolf said...

Has this use of "acting" positions increased significantly in recent years? Is this due the heavy supply side concentration of the labor market in orchestral musicians -- orchestras take advantage of this and offer temporary or provisional positions (often to musicians with safe tenure elsewhere) in preference to making long-term commitments. While there are some potential benefits in having longer periods of audition -- and, to be absolutely fair, all of these SF cases may represent precisely such auditions -- the downside risk in avoiding permanent hires is quite like that due to the overuse of adjunct, acting and visiting positions in academe or in short-term contracts with private firms: a decrease in institutional distinctiveness, commitment and community. In orchestras, at least, these are important qualities.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Daniel, I don't know, although other readers might. My guess is that it's an issue at SFS because MTT has been very slow and picky about permanent appointments. Robert Ward, the principal horn, was acting for something like eight years. It took three or four years to appoint a new principal viola, and I think four or five to appoint a new concertmaster.

Michael said...

I don't believe the acting positions have increased significantly in the past 10 years or so; I didn't pay much attention before that. At times I've been impatient with MTT's slowness in appointing some (not all) principals, but the payoff for getting the right person has really been worth it as the orchestra continues to improve. The concertmaster gap was 3 seasons, same as principal viola. On the other hand, the principal clarinet chair was filled without any delay.

If there's a new acting associate principal trumpet, it seems last year's player didn't make it out of probation. That's what happened to the principal horn - someone was hired for a year, didn't make it out of the probation period, and Robert Ward was acting both before and after that.

I recall Izotov's playing fondly. Very cool to have him playing for the Alternative Energy concert set, which he would know from Chicago.

Lisa Hirsch said...

You are right: I thought Tichman was acting concertmaster for five years, but it was only from 1998-2001.

CK Dexter Haven said...

Inouye was some combination of acting or on leave for 4-5 years. Ward waited even longer before MTT named him principal horn -- as much as 9 years if memory serves. I really hope it doesn't take that long to get a principal oboe with tenure, but I won't be surprised if it does.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I think it was 8 for Ward, will have to check about Inouye. The trumpet section situation was interesting: the former principal, Glenn Fischthal, stepped back in the section because he felt he was not playing as well as he used to. I think it is now 10 years since he stepped down, but I don't remember when Inouye came on board or what the history was.

CK Dexter Haven said...

According to the Chicago Tribune:

"Although CSO principal oboe Eugene Izotov won the principal oboe audition at the San Francisco Symphony earlier this year, he has remained silent about his future plans and the CSO has not announced any leave of absence. It is assumed within the orchestra ranks he will remain CSO principal oboe at least through the current season."


Lisa Hirsch said...

Well, that is fascinating. I wonder what SFS Communications would say if I asked them about that report.

CK Dexter Haven said...

I look forward to hearing what they say when you ask them.