How did you come to join QUO?
In July of 2009, QUO founder Brandynn Metzko emailed the Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps (LGBAC) listserv looking for people interested in starting an LGBT orchestra. I was excited not only to help form a new ensemble, but to return to my roots as a string player. I went cello shopping with QUO founding cellist Mathew Gnagy and took lessons with a cello major at Columbia, but after a year I hadn’t stuck with it and joined the percussion section instead, where I remain today. QUO is a constant source of pride for me as a musician and an administrator, and it’s thrilling to see how far we’ve come and imagine (and plan!) where we may go next.
What is your favorite place to take friends visiting NYC?
My friends generally have their own ideas about where they want to go, but I like to take them to see a Broadway show. If they’re staying with me in Sunset Park, I’ll take them to see the park across the street from me, or walk around Green-Wood Cemetery.
What musical symbol best defines you and why?
I like to think of myself as a D.S. al coda, because I give terrible directions.
How long have you been playing your instrument?
I’ve been playing piano since the age of seven. My mom used to drop my sister and me off at the piano teacher’s house, and I’d have my lesson and then wait while my sister had hers. I still play the piano, but these days I’m more likely to be seen in the percussion section. I picked up percussion in college, and then picked it up again when I joined the LGBAC in 2005. I’ve never had any formal percussion training, but I’m finally at the point where I consider myself a percussionist. Now somebody buy us some timpani.
Question from Jim: As a percussionist, what do you see to be the role of your section in the orchestra, and what is the main challenge of being a percussionist?
When I’m sitting in rehearsal counting a 46234987-measure rest, it’s hard to see what the role of percussion is in the orchestra. At the best moments, which are when the conductor is listening for me to play something just right and I actually do it, I see the role of percussion as being the same as the role of every other section of the orchestra: to contribute in some small (or sometimes large) way to the creation of beautiful music. In some pieces, I think percussion has a hand in keeping the beat and helping the group maintain the rhythm set by the conductor, but more often in orchestra music, we’re sparkle and dazzle and color.
The main challenge of being a percussionist is playing confidently. Like any other musician, you can’t be afraid of making mistakes, but our mistakes are the loudest, especially when the mistake is dropping the cymbals on the floor. You just have to go for the gusto.