Associate Principal Cello
Peter & Jacqueline Hoefer Chair
Member since 1999
Hometown: Poughkeepsie, NY
My family—my parents and my two brothers are wonderful musicians, as are my wife Amy [Hiraga, SFS violinist], and my two children. I’m inspired by all of them. I’ve always gotten a lot of encouragement from my family and my teachers, and I’ve thrived on that kind of support.
On becoming a musician:
I became a professional musician when I was 14. I joined the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, and that was my first experience working and making some money. It just seemed like it was apparent that I would become a musician from early on. At that time, there weren’t that many kids who were doing what I was doing. Of course now, there are hundreds, but then, it felt like it was a very unique thing.
All the good hobbies are too dangerous—I can’t afford to break my arm or a finger! So, I started doing bonsai, which is pretty safe. I study with [SFS Associate Principal Clarinetist] Luis Baez, who is my mentor. I’m a beginner, so I’m just working to keep my six plants alive. I also work hard to stay fit. And I’m at the cello all the time, beyond what I do here at Davies. I’m constantly working on some project, whether its chamber music or a recital.
On being in the Orchestra:
I love to work, and luckily, we have constant work here. For me, the more the better. Every week, we have a different program or a different style of music, and our skill sets are constantly changing. We play contemporary music, Baroque music—everything. So, I really like to keep my expectations open and allow myself to be surprised by things that I may not know. I’m interested in pieces that I have never seen before, and I’m always hopeful that I’ll love something new that we’re doing.
SFS member since: 2007
Hometown: San Francisco
Music schools you attended: Eastman School of Music, The Juilliard School of Music
Began playing music: At age 4
Musical inspirations: My parents
If I were not a professional musician, I might be a: Forest ranger
Favorite composers: Bach, Schubert, Schumann
Favorite works featuring my instrument: Schumann’s and Dvořák’s cello concertos
When I’m not working, I enjoy: Spending time with our 5 and 7 year-old son and daughter, and all their friends. I’m also trying to get back in shape with cycling.
Recent reading: The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch
On my CD player/iPod: Old ’80s pop music and Beatles songs
Favorite things to do in the Bay Area: Hiking and biking
Plus: I’m looking forward to playing the Dvořák Cello Concerto with the Parnassus Symphony, the Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations with the San Francisco Academy. I’ll also be spending a weekend in Vancouver playing an all-solo recital and teaching there as well.
Amos Yang has served as a Symphony mentor in the SF Symphony Community of Music Makers program.
Lyman & Carol Casey Second Century Chair
Member since 1974
Hometown: Rock Hill, SC
On being in the Orchestra:
Orchestral playing creates a situation in which you can lose yourself in a large soundscape. I really enjoy being part of a bigger picture. In this orchestra there has always been a tremendous amount of professional integrity, energy, and focus onstage.
Began playing music:
Both my parents were professional pianists, so I started early on the piano. My father’s sister was a cellist, and she introduced me to the cello when I was eight. We lived out in the country where there weren’t many distractions, so we spent a lot of time practicing, and it paid off.
I studied with Irving Klein, who was the cellist in the Claremont String Quartet. Playing quartets had a big effect on how I think about music. The repertory is varied and rich. It provides tremendous opportunities for a cellist to relate to other instruments, but also to be featured and play melodic lines.
I enjoy playing sonata repertory with William Corbett-Jones, a very fine local pianist. I also enjoy various groupings of chamber musicians from the Orchestra. Before I was a parent, I spent ten years coaching the Youth Orchestra cello section, which was a great joy. I’m also a scuba diver—that’s how I met my husband, who is a marine biologist.
Margaret Tait has served as a Symphony mentor in the SF Symphony Community of Music Makers program.
Cello - The Stanley S. Langendorf Foundation Second Century Chair
Member since 1977
Hometown: New Philadelphia, OH
Other musical activities:
As Principal Cellist of the Sierra Chamber Society, I play a lot of chamber music. I also get most of the personnel together, set up rehearsals, and get the music. I really love having that opportunity to learn other music, and it’s great to work in small groups. I also take voice lessons, which is so different from learning an instrument. It’s taken me a long time to learn how to breathe and how to stand, and you really need a coach to tell you what you sound like. It definitely has influenced my cello-playing as far as color and phrasing.
In your CD player:
Great Sopranos of Our Time—these voices are so glorious, I have to sing along!
I'm enjoying art classes. When I finished a recent painting, I thought it was a visual symphony, with all colors combined to make a complete picture, just as all instruments together form a musical picture.
Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer—what lush descriptions of nature. I felt as if I were right there with the cast of colorful characters. Talent is Overrated, by Geoff Colvin, had a lot of interesting food for thought. I also enjoyed On Writing: A Memoir Of the Craft, by Stephen King.
SFS member since: 1994
Hometown: Santa Rosa/Philadelphia/Daly City/New York
Music schools you attended: Juilliard School; San Francisco Conservatory of Music, prep division
Began playing music: At age 8
Musical inspirations: Hearing a string quartet perform in my elementary school
If I were not a professional musician, I might be an: Anthropologist
Favorite composers: Schubert, Sibelius, Bernstein
Favorite works featuring my instrument: Mozart’s last three string quartets
When I’m not working, I enjoy: Spending time with my husband and two teenagers; being active in Democratic politics
Recent reading: City of Veils, by Zoe Ferraris; Catherine the Great, by Robert Massie
On my CD player/iPod: My son’s bluegrass band
Favorite things to do in the Bay Area: Explore different neighborhoods, visit museums (in SF), hiking (in Marin), and biking
Plus: I recently did a meditation retreat at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, and have also been to India with my family when my husband presented a talk on his research on meditation to his Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Barbara Bogatin has served as a Symphony mentor in the SF Symphony Community of Music Makers program.
Gary & Kathleen Heidenreich Second Century Chair
SFS member since: 1980
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Music schools you attended: Indiana University, Chicago Musical College
Began playing music: At age 3
Musical inspirations: My first cello teacher, Shirley Evans Tabachnick, Principal Cellist of the Lyric Opera Orchestra
If I were not a professional musician, I might be a: writer
Favorite composers: The ones I’m currently playing
Favorite works featuring my instrument: Schubert, Cello Quintet; Villa-lobos, Bachianas Brasilieras; Tchaikovsky, Pezzo Capriccioso; Brahms, Piano Trio in B major
When I’m not working, I enjoy: Teaching, cooking, playing chamber music, playing with my grandchildren
Recent reading: The Evening Star, by Larry McMurtry; Animal Vegetable Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver; Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson
On my CD player/iPod: Catoire, Piano Quintet; Brindel, Concertino for Cello and Strings; Trios by Andriasov and Taneyev
Favorite things to do in the Bay Area: Walk up hills to see the views: ocean, bay, bridges, Marin; Eat out at the many wonderful restaurants
Plus: I coach the Youth Orchestra cellists, which is great fun. They are an exceptional group of adolescents. I’m preparing my father’s First String Quartet right now and I’m enjoying getting to know it. I recently became a grandmother and I’m having the time of my life! Two more are coming in May.
Jill Brindel has served as a Symphony mentor in the SF Symphony Community of Music Makers program.
David Goldblatt, occupant of the Christine & Pierre Lamond Second Century Chair, joined the San Francisco Symphony cello section in 1978, having previously played in the Pittsburgh Symphony. He studied in New York City with Lieff Rosanoff and Jean Goberman and went on to attend the New School of Music in Philadelphia. In 1975 he graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music. Mr. Goldblatt has also been a cellist with the Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia and the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra.
Member since 1982
Hometown: Long Beach, CA
My mother grew up going to Philadelphia Orchestra concerts. She loved playing piano; I remember falling asleep to her Chopin. She was the musical influence, but later on, my enthusiastic father encouraged me to head for Juilliard with Leonard Rose as my teacher.
I always come back to Beethoven. I would have liked to meet him. There is so much intricacy and beauty in his music. For me, his originality is often unmatched. But then there is Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Schumann. . .
My dad and I started a chamber music festival in Mill Valley in the ’80s. It began with a small group of colleagues and grew to include musicians from all over the country. I met my husband Jack Vad—the Symphony’s recording engineer—at my own festival. Eventually the festival ended, and we had our two boys
On being in the Orchestra:
The thing that I find so amazing about the Orchestra is that one is amongst so many other talented musicians who have worked incredibly hard and have been so involved in making music. When we all come together doing our own perfected thing on our own instrument, we are able to bring any composer’s music to life, and to create huge multitudes of gorgeous sound. It is spectacular.