Meet our Members

Featured Member: Brian Shaw

Brian ShawBrian plays oboe, saxophone, and percussion in QUO (and has also played flute, trombone, and also every other instrument), and joined us in October 2009.

How did you come to join QUO?
I was at a bar with some friends shortly after moving to NYC in 2009 when a couple people I didn’t know came to join us, both carrying instruments. I inquired, and found out they had just come from an orchestra rehearsal. Flash forward 1 week and I was at rehearsal with my oboe, for the first QUO season ever! I’ve been a member (on and off as time permits) ever since.

How long have you been playing your instrument(s)?
Being the son of a band teacher, I grew up with instruments around the house. My first formal training was on the piano, around age 8. I studied alto saxophone in middle school, and oboe in high school. The rest (I play all the woodwinds) I picked up on my own over the years, most recently starting to teach myself bassoon just this past summer. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks! 😉

What musical symbol best describes you and why?
At this exact moment in life, I’m a portato (not to be confused with potato). A little confusing by outward appearances, still completely useful and dynamic, being full and yet slightly separated from my neighbors. I am at once living my life to the fullest and keeping my eyes on what’s coming next. Ever changing depending on the tempo of life. I love how portato stands alone, and yet is fully dependent on its peers. That’s me. 🙂

What is your favorite place to take friends visiting NYC?
For me, the magic of the city is in day-to-day life, so when family/friends visit, I take them to my favorite restaurants, open mic spots, and bars; show them the “chill” side of NYC. There’s a great Italian place in HK called Gallo Nero that I love, and a quaint bar in Astoria called Mosaic that has a fantastic beer menu.

Question from fellow QUO-member Christina: If you could live anywhere other than NYC, where would you live?
I attended college in Miami, FL, and often think about moving back, especially during the winter months. I just love a life where I never have to worry about wearing a coat. I would absolutely miss the joy of public transportation, though. As terrible as the MTA can sometimes be, I simply cannot imagine life without it.

Featured Member: Christian Smythe

Christian SmytheChristian plays oboe and English horn in QUO (and has also played piano and percussion, and sang, and arranged for QUOtets, and I think that’s everything) and is a founding member.

How did you come to join QUO?
I am a founding member of QUO! I’ve played with the Big Apple Corps band since 1998 (!). Rumbling about the need for an LGBT orchestra increased in the mid 2000s, and it finally happened. I joined as an oboist but have enjoyed broadening my contributions to include English horn, piano, percussion, and even voice.

What is your favorite place to take friends visiting NYC? (besides the High Line)
I actually don’t bring visitors to the High Line. As a Queens resident, I tend to promote the peace and cultural uniquenesses of my borough. A walk through Astoria Park, dinner at Agnanti, E Taverna, MP Taverna, or Mojave, drinks at Albatross.

What musical symbol best defines you and why?
Rubato. Life requires a little give and take, which I’m learning more and more as a teacher, musician, friend, and family member.

How long have you been playing your instrument?
I started playing piano by ear at 10 and took 2 or 3 years of lessons starting at 14. At around that same age, I picked up my sister’s flute and taught myself to play. I then got hold of a CD collection my sister received as a gift. Each CD included famous classical works that featured a particular instrument. The oboe collection left a deep impression, particularly the Tchaikovsky “Swan Lake” selections. My high school had no music program at all, so my parents found a summer music enrichment program in our town. I played a bit of flute and oboe in those programs and found that the instructors believed in me to the point that I moved rapidly into more advanced ensembles. Trial by fire! During my sophomore year of high school, while my interest in classical music was firing up, I was bitten by the theatre bug. The end result is that for a while, I was simultaneously taking piano, oboe, and voice lessons. I ended up focusing on voice for my undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Question from Adrienne: Christian, last spring I had the pleasure of performing with you (and lots of other QUO musicians) for a couple of weeks at La Mama in the East Village. For me, it felt like an incredible honor to be playing in a New York City venue that has so much rich history of experimental performing arts in this city. If you could play in any New York City venue, in any decade of time, and with any group or ensemble, what would that be?
Whoa…tough question! That La Mama experience was special, particularly as I used to live in that neighborhood. I suppose I would love to have played or sung under Leonard Bernstein, in any venue! Otherwise, I’d love to perform with a chamber group, or even my fellow singers at St. Bartholomew’s choir, in a space like the Church of St. Luke in the Fields in the West Village. I’m a fan of intimate settings.

Featured Member: Adrienne Lloyd

Adrienne LloydAdrienne plays double bass and joined QUO in October 2015

How did you come to join QUO?
I had just returned from teaching out of town for the summer and was catching up with some friends on a rooftop in Manhattan, one of whom is this amazing accompanist and music critic named Eduard Laurel (who writes under the moniker Crack Critic). Eduard had to duck out of the party to accompany somebody for an audition for a QUO section leader spot. Eduard and this musician both returned back to the party after the audition was over, and that’s when I first learned about the orchestra. A few weeks later I played my first concert in the opening of the 2015/2016 season.

What is your favorite place to take friends visiting NYC? (besides the High Line)
Does the High Line Expansion count? Just kidding. I’ve had an apartment and a rehearsal space in Bushwick for seven years, and I’m still really in love with my neighborhood. When friends visit I usually like to grab some cheap food at this amazing taco factory near me called Tortilleria Mexican Los Hermanos then stroll through the more industrial side of Bushwick to Broadway, then under the JZ subway tracks to walk over the Williamsburg Bridge. From the highest point on the bridge there’s an incredible view of North Brooklyn behind you, the bottom of Manhattan in front of you, and you can also see all three of the other bridges connecting them.

What musical symbol best defines you and why?
I’m not sure if this actually “defines” me, but I’ve always loved fully diminished chords. Like A°7. I think it’s something to do with the equally stacked minor thirds (1, ♭3, ♭5, double flat 7) that I find pleasing in a mathematical way (wow, this answer just got real geeky).

How long have you been playing your instrument?
I started playing bass when I got to high school, but I had played piano and a little bit of cello before that. I actually signed up for “beginner band” class when I started high school, with the very 13-year old notion that I could get an “easy A” as a percussion player with my piano/keyboard background. But the string teacher saw on my application that I had cello experience, called me on the phone the summer before I started 9th grade, and he pulled me into the advanced strings program at the school. When he saw what a terrible cellist I was (and maybe also how tall I was) he suggested that I switch over to bass. My first response was “absolutely not” but he talked me into it and from the very beginning it was like I had finally found the instrument that was right for me.

It’s actually a pretty incredible thing this high school music teacher did for me. I went to a public high school in downtown Toronto, and he was able to give me a bass to have at my house to practice on, and also set me up with a scholarship to take lessons with a member of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. I started high school just at the end of his 30 year career there, so I can’t even imagine the number of kids he had this kind of “life changing” impact on.

Question from Joe: What are your favorite orchestral parts for the bass and what do they add to the sound texture?
I think one of the things I love about bass parts is that they play a huge role in the harmonic outline of music, and also huge role in the rhythmic foundation too. Not to mention as a bass player I get to play in pretty much every type of ensemble and every genre of music (…except for maybe marching band?). But back to Joe’s question, my favorite orchestral work is Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion. More specifically the second half of that work. I feel like those bass parts, and that music overall is some of the most beautiful music ever written.

Previously Featured Members

  • Álvaro Rodas

  • Alan Hyde

  • Alix Raspé

  • Alva Bostick

  • Andre Gillard

  • Andrew Berman

  • Andy Holland

  • Bjorn Berkhout

  • Brooks Berg

  • Bryan Tallevi

  • Bryanne Pashley

  • Charlie Scatamacchia

  • Christina Rose Rahn

  • Clint Arndt

  • Craig Devereaux

  • Darcy Leon

  • David Lohman

  • Drew Acquaviva

  • Eric Hayslett

  • Erin Kulick

  • Fran Novak

  • Frederick Hodges

  • George Gehring

  • Holly Seefeldt

  • Ian Shafer

  • Jasmine Rault

  • Jason Svatek

  • Jay Varga

  • Jenn Forese

  • Jim Babcock

  • Jim Theobald

  • Joe Caldarise

  • Julie Desbordes

  • Laura Flanagan

  • Liann Wadewitz

  • Lisa LoFaso

  • Matthew Hadley

  • Michael Shattner

  • Navida Stein

  • Nick Johnson

  • Phong Ta

  • Rodney Azagra

  • Ron Nahass

  • Sam Nedel

  • Scott Oaks

  • Seth Bedford

  • Stephanie Stattel

  • Steven Petrucelli

  • Thomas Lai

  • Travis Fraser

  • Vasanth Subramaniam