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)

Eugene Izotov

Principal Oboe

Eugene Izotov, who joins the San Francisco Symphony as Principal Oboe, holding the Edo de Waart Chair, in the 2015-16 season, leads a multi-faceted career in orchestral, solo, teaching, and chamber music engagements. He was previously Associate Principal Oboe of the San Francisco Symphony from 1996 to 2003, principal oboe of the Metropolitan Opera, and, most recently, principal oboe with the Chicago Symphony. He is the first Russian-born musician in history to hold a principal wind position in any major American symphony orchestra. His numerous awards include top prizes at solo competitions in Saint Petersburg (1991), Moscow (1990), New York (1995), and at the Fernand Gillet International Competition (2001).

Mr. Izotov has appeared more than forty times as soloist with orchestras such as the San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, Pacific Music Festival Orchestra, and he has collaborated with Bernard Haitink, Riccardo Muti, James Levine, Nicholas McGegan, Edo de Waart, Ludovic Morlot, Ton Koopman, and Michael Tilson Thomas performing works by Mozart, Strauss, Marcello, Haydn, Martinů, Vivaldi, Carter, Hummel, Krommer, and Bach. He has recorded for Sony Classical, BMG, Boston Records, Lisem Records, Elektra, CSO Resound, and most recently he was a featured soloist with the Chicago Symphony under the baton of John Williams on the Oscar-nominated film Lincoln. A prolific chamber musician, Mr. Izotov has collaborated regularly with the MET Chamber Ensemble throughout its residence at Carnegie Hall, as well as with Yefim Bronfman, Pinchas Zukerman, Jamie Laredo, Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax, André Watts, and the Tokyo String Quartet.

One of the most sought-after oboe teachers in the US, Mr. Izotov presents regular master classes at conservatories across the nation and abroad, such as Aspen Music Festival, New World Symphony, Boston University, Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, San Francisco Conservatory, University of Michigan, University of Illinois, University of California at Berkeley, Huyndai Center (Seoul), Tanglewood Music Center, Domaine Forget (Canada), and Interlochen Center for the Arts. In 2003, at the invitation of James Levine, Mr. Izotov joined the woodwind faculty of the Verbier Festival Orchestra in Switzerland. Since 2005 he has served on the faculty of the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan. He also served as an oboe mentor for the 2011 YouTube Symphony Orchestra led by Michael Tilson Thomas during its residency at the Sydney Opera House in Australia, which included a live internet simulcast to more than 30 million viewers worldwide. Recent and upcoming highlights include teaching engagements at New World Symphony, Music Academy of the West, Mannes College, Oberlin College, Pacific Music Festival (Sapporo, Japan), and McGill University (Montreal).

Born in Moscow, Russia, Eugene Izotov studied at the Gnesin School of Music with Ivan Pushechnikov and Sergey Velikanov and at Boston University School of Fine Arts with Ralph Gomberg.

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

SFS member since:  2007

Hometown:   Atlanta, GA

Music schools attended:  Northwestern University, Boston University

Began playing music: At age 13

Musical inspirations:  My band director

If I were not a professional musician, I might be a: Teacher or athlete

Favorite composers: Bach, Mahler, Brahms, Sibelius

Favorite works featuring my instrument: The Swan of Tuonela, Sibelius; William Tell Overture, Rossini; Shostakovich, Symphony No. 8; Berlioz, Roman Carnival Overture

When I’m not working, I enjoy: Working out, reading, spending time with my kids

Recent reading: The Stiff: The Curious Lives of Cadavers, by Mary Roach; History of the Philadelphia Orchestra

On my CD player/iPod: Pink Martini
Favorite things to do in the Bay Area: Eating out, beaches

Russ deLuna has served as a Symphony mentor in the SF Symphony Community of Music Makers program.

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.