(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.
Jonathan Fischer joined the San Francisco Symphony in 2003, and is currently on a leave of absence from his position as Associate Principal Oboist while he serves as Principal Oboist with the Houston Symphony. He has held positions with the Cleveland Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Grant Park Symphony, Santa Fe Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Savannah Symphony, and New World Symphony. Mr. Fischer has performed as a guest principal with many of the nation’s leading orchestras, including those of Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Saint Louis, Atlanta, and Baltimore, as well as the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. He has appeared as a soloist several times with the San Francisco Symphony, as well as with the Grant Park Symphony and the New World Symphony. This summer Mr. Fischer will serve his third year as Principal Oboist with the Sun Valley Summer Symphony in Idaho. He has taught and performed at the Aspen Music Festival as well as Music at Menlo, and he frequently coaches at the New World Symphony. Mr. Fischer holds a degree from the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Richard Woodhams. He grew up in the Carolinas and travels there often to visit his family.
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.
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