Skip to main content

Program Notes

Each week, thousands of San Francisco Symphony concert-goers open their programs to read about the drama, the passion, and the inspiration behind the music they’re hearing. You can read our critically acclaimed program notes online one week prior to select concerts.

Ron Minor was born in San Diego in 1954 and currently resides in Valencia, CA. His forty-year career as a trombone player and composer has been wide-ranging both musically and geographically. After starting out as a freelance musician in the Los Angeles area, he spent fifteen years traveling, living, and working primarily outside of the United States, with significant stops in Venezuela, South Africa, and Germany. Upon returning to South Africa after the ending of apartheid and the election of Nelson Mandela as president in 1994, Minor conducted the KwaZulu-Natal Youth Orchestra, the first racially diverse youth orchestra in the newly democratic country.

He returned to the Los Angeles area in 1996 and has since performed with Los Angeles Opera, Los Angeles Master Chorale, San Diego Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Pasadena Pops Orchestra, Long Beach Symphony, Long Beach Opera, New West Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, Fresno Philharmonic, Philharmonic Society of Orange County, and Florida’s Sarasota Opera.

The composer offers the following comment on Tutrovio II:

Tutrovio II, a quartet for trombone and three string instruments, is a new reworking of a piece for viola and trombone composed and first performed in 1993. The premiere of the original duo, with myself and German violist Iris Reeder, took place that same year at California State University, Fullerton, as part of a tribute concert honoring my father’s retirement after forty years as one of California’s most distinguished and influential music educators.

After performing Tutrovio in the United States, Germany, and South Africa, I thought, for a couple of reasons, that it would be good to add at least one string instrument to the piece. Because of its relentlessly continuous two-part texture throughout, every time Iris and I played Tutrovio, I found myself craving opportunities to take longer and more relaxed breaths as we raced inexorably towards the finish line! The addition of even just one instrument would help to create beneficial breathing room in the trombone part and also the possibility for more diverse combinations of timbres.

When San Francisco Symphony violist Wayne Roden expressed interest in performing Tutrovio, I decided finally to augment the instrumentation with a cello and a double bass, hoping that Wayne would welcome the new Tutrovio II. This new arrangement receives its world premiere in this concert.

Even though the viola and trombone retain featured roles and the musical ideas remain basically the same, the inclusion of two additional string parts and changes in orchestration have led to some substantial differences between the two versions. I hope these differences are also enhancements.—Ron Minor

(September 2019)