William Bennett

Principal, Edo de Waart Chair

(February 28, 2013) The San Francisco Symphony is deeply saddened to announce the passing of Principal Oboist William Bennett. Read complete statement.

William Bennett is Principal Oboist of the San Francisco Symphony and occupant of the Edo de Waart Chair, a position he has held since 1987. He joined the Orchestra in 1979 as Associate Principal to Marc Lifschey. A regular soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, in 1992 he gave the world premiere of John Harbison’s Oboe Concerto with Herbert Blomstedt conducting—music commissioned for him by the SFS and which Mr. Bennett went on to perform with the Orchestra on tour in Carnegie Hall and throughout Europe, including performances in Vienna and London. He recorded that work with the Orchestra for Decca. Mr. Bennett’s other solo performances with the SFS have included Richard Strauss’s Oboe Concerto, in which he is again featured at these concerts, Francaix’s The Flower Clock, and the Mozart Oboe Concerto, as well as concertos by Vivaldi, Bach, Haydn, Barber, Martin, and Cordero-Saldivia.

Mr. Bennett has appeared in solo recital, concerto, chamber, and orchestral engagements throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia. He has performed at the Marlboro Festival, the Festival de Inverno in São Paulo, the Aspen Festival, and at the Berkshire Music Center and Music@Menlo. He has been soloist and woodwind coach with the Asian Youth Orchestra. An active soloist in the Bay Area and Northern California, he has performed numerous concerts with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the Parlante Chamber Orchestra, Symphony Parnassus, and the orchestras of Berkeley, Fresno, Modesto, Napa, Santa Cruz, and Stockton. He is frequently featured in his own realizations/transcriptions and orchestrations of such works as the lost Beethoven Concerto and music by Debussy, Ellington, and Pasculli.

A graduate of Yale University, Mr. Bennett studied oboe with Robert Bloom at Yale and at the Juilliard School of Music. He serves on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Recordings featuring William Bennett as soloist are available at the Symphony Store in Davies Symphony Hall, and online at sfsymphony.org/store.

(February 2013)

Pamela Smith

Dr. William D. Clinite Chair

Pamela Smith   
Oboe - Dr. William D. Clinite Chair
Member since 1988
Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Began playing music:
I started piano when I was four. My parents had no musical background whatsoever but my older brother played clarinet. When he began as a bass clarinetist in the Atlanta Symphony—where he retired after 44 years—I decided I wanted to follow in his footsteps. I loved the flute but the band needed an oboe player, so at age seven I began oboe lessons.

On becoming a professional musician:
After I graduated high school, the Rotary Club International awarded me a grant to live and study a year abroad. I attended a small conservatory in Liège, Belgium. I came to San Francisco in 1973 to study with Marc Lifschey—then principal oboist with the SFS—at the San Francisco Conservatory. Since then I’ve been privileged in the opportunities to study with some of the greats, including John de Lancie of the Philadelphia Orchestra, John Mack of the Cleveland Orchestra, and Joe Robinson of the New York Philharmonic and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

On being in the Orchestra:
I love performing here with MTT: His obvious joy and enthusiasm for the music is infectious. Prior to coming here, I enjoyed positions with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony, and the Honolulu Symphony.

My son Jack keeps me busy. I have a passion for gardening, I love skiing, and I am a voracious reader of historical novels, especially about the American South.


Russ deLuna

English horn, Joseph & Pauline Scafidi Chair

Russ deLuna Russ deLuna joined the SFS as English horn player in 2007 and is occupant of the Joseph & Pauline Scafidi Chair. He was previously principal oboe of the Atlanta Opera Orchestra and the Columbus (Georgia) Symphony; he played English horn in the Atlanta Ballet and the Alabama Symphony. A graduate of Boston University, he has performed on the Noe Valley Chamber Music Series as well as with the Gold Coast Chamber Players. He is currently a coach for the SFS Youth Orchestra.

(October 2017)

Christopher Gaudi

Chris Gaudi

Currently the Acting Associate Principal oboe of the San Francisco Symphony, Christopher Gaudi has also served as the Acting Assistant Principal oboe of the National Symphony Orchestras, as Professor of Oboe at the University of Indiana Bloomington Jacob School of Music, Principal Oboe in the San Diego Symphony, Guest Principal oboe with the Atlanta, Seattle, and Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestras, and has been a frequent substitute with the Metropolitan Opera. He has also performed with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and for multiple occasions at the at the White House. Currently he also serves as President of the Board for OvreArts, Inc., a non-profit arts organization in Pittsburgh, PA. A student of Elaine Douvas and John Mack, Mr. Gaudi received both his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from The Juilliard School. He has participated in numerous festivals including Aspen, Kent/Blossom, Mainly Mozart, Spoleto (Italy), the New York String Orchestra Seminar, and the Interlochen Arts Camp, and has presented masterclasses at The Colburn School, Interlochen, Asian Youth Orchestra (Hong Kong) and Hidden Valley Music Seminars. He also maintains a blog, www.oboeclass.com, a website full of information and resources for oboists.

Christopher Gaudi has served as a Symphony mentor in the SF Symphony Community of Music Makers program.