DPO presents Spotlight: DPO Quartet and Principals
Look. Up in the sky. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’ a…bird and a plane.
Ever since I was a kid, I have looked forward to seeing, and yet never actually have seen, a Super Hero. The flying kind or otherwise. I have seen a Super Chief (actually, I’ve ridden on one out of L.A.), a Super Bowl game, and a Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious movie. But not one Super Hero.
I have, however, seen and heard in person several Super Musicians. Dizzy Gillespie, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Jim Croce, Rachel Barton Pine, and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. All are, or were, big stars at the top of their craft. None had to sneak into a telephone booth and change clothes to let people know they had big-time musical game. Pass them on the street, and you’d have no way of knowing they were extremely special, talented people.
Until you heard them play.
And we have in our midst some musical super heroes of our own. If you have attended a Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra (DPO) concert, you have heard these heroes play before. You may not have noticed them specifically, because they most likely were performing as members of the larger group.
Unlike Reed Richards, Susan Storm, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm, they haven’t gone on any scientific missions to outer space during which – after exposure to cosmic rays – they gained superpowers and became Mister Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch, or The Thing.
Like any super hero, our six had to undergo a severe trial to prove their worth. Nothing that involves fire, explosives, metallic weapons, or death rays, but something much more challenging for a classical musician.
A blind audition.
Prospective members of the DPO and prospective Principal (read: first chair) musicians receive 10 excerpted musical selections each out of which they’ll play three or four in the first blind audition round (5-7 minutes) of music for a particular instrument.
And they must perform it for judges who can only hear the musician play; they cannot see the musician, so as not to be swayed by any factor other than the musician’s sheer ability both to correctly read and perform the music.
It requires perfect knowledge of the music and steely control of one’s nerves and emotions to win an audition.
Each blind audition round per instrument starts with 10 applicants in a group; the judges pick one musician from each group.
In the second blind round all surviving first-round applicants are in the same group from which judges select the three best. In the third and final blind round judges select the one musician who is the best of the final three.
It takes on the average 12 to 20 auditions for an applicant before landing the average DPO musician’s job.
A professional musician for over 20 years at the time, Bill Slusser, DPO second violin/librarian practiced for two years before auditioning for the DPO. Two years and 22 auditions later, Bill landed his current position.
On Thursdday, April 26 at 6:30 pm in the Renaissance Auditorium of the Dayton Art Institute, the DPO will present Spotlight: DPO Quartet and Principals, the final Special Event of the season. And the Supergroup will perform works by a super grouping – Mozart, Britten, and BRAHMS.
Q: Who, exactly, are the Supergroup?
A: Jessica Hung, Kirstin Greenlaw, Sheridan Currie, Andra Padrichelli, Eileen Whalen, and John Kurokawa.
Violinist Jessica Hung of Chicago is Concertmaster of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. Jessica also serves as Concertmaster of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra and previously held the same position in the Chicago Civic, Northwestern University, CIM, and Ashland Symphony Orchestras, as well as the post of Assistant Concertmaster with the Akron Symphony Orchestra.
After winning selection by audition, Jessica performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the Tanglewood Music Center. Her orchestral endeavors have brought her to such venues as Carnegie Hall in New York and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.
Kirstin Greenlaw, Principal Second Violin of the Dayton Philharmonic, maintains an active performing and teaching schedule in the Dayton and Cincinnati areas. Between performances with the Duveneck String Quartet in Cincinnati and the Dayton Principals quartet, she is active in the SPARK program through the Dayton Philharmonic.
She has served on the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and as concertmaster and soloist with the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra. Now in her seventh year on the faculty of the Opera Theatre and Music Festival of Lucca, she is acting chamber music coordinator for the Festival. She is also a grand prize winner of the Carmel Chamber Music Competition and graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy
Sheridan Kamberger Currie is the Principal Violist of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. She has performed as chamber musician throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe and has performed as soloist with numerous orchestras since her concerto debut in 1997. In 1998 Ms. Currie was the Time Warner String Fellow at the Aspen Music Festival and the winner of the Nakamichi Viola Concerto Competition there. Other competition awards include first prize in the 1998 Geraldine B. Gee International Viola Competition, where she also won second prize in 1995 and 1997.
Andra Lunde Padrichelli, Principal Cellist of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, has played in the Fort Worth Symphony as Assistant Principal and has played in the Cincinnati Symphony. She has received many awards, including First Prize in the New York ASTA competition in 1997.
Her tenure with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra has given her opportunities to collaborate with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax as well as performing chamber music and extensive orchestral solos.
Eileen Whalen, the Principal Oboist of the Dayton Philharmonic, has served as the Principal Oboist of the Honolulu Symphony and the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic and has performed with the New Jersey, Colorado, and Jacksonville Symphonies, among others.
In addition, Ms. Whalen is the Principal Oboist of the Glimmerglass Opera Orchestra, with whom she has performed on an Emmy-nominated PBS Great Performance broadcast, has recorded for Chandos records, and has been heard regularly on NPR’s World of Opera.
John Kurokawa is the Principal Clarinetist of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, a position he has held since 1995. A former student of Edward Marks and Ronald de Kant, he holds degrees in woodwind performance from Bowling Green State University (specializing in clarinet, flute, and saxophone) and clarinet performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
Kurokawa has been a featured soloist with the Dayton Philharmonic, performing the concertos of John Adams and Mozart. He has performed with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and participated in the orchestra’s recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 9. He is also the Principal Clarinetist of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and spends the latter part of his summers performing in the Lakeside Symphony Orchestra.
See the extremely tested, tried, and talented Supergroup with the DPO on April 26 in Spotlight: DPO Quartet and Principals.
Just don’t expect to see a bat signal in the spotlight….