December 17, 2007 - COMMENTARY
Today brings the end of a significant period of my life. This evening, at 10:00 PM, my trombone section colleague in the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops
Orchestras for over 22 years, Norman Bolter, will transition to a new phase in life, that of "Boston Symphony Orchestra Retiree." And with the final D major chord
of "White Christmas," Norman and I will end our long time collaboration as section mates in the BSO. One does not get many 22 year long periods in a lifetime.
I have told many people that I have spent more time with Norman than any person on earth apart from my wife and two daughters. A rough calculation tells me that
Norman and I have spent over 20,000 hours together on the job. Add to this the countless hours of being together in other contexts - recitals, recording sessions,
meals together, conversations, emails, and telephone calls - it all adds up to a lot of time spent together. And with Norman's retirement today, I will also
transition into a new phase of my life, as one who is "left behind" to carry on the legacy of the Boston Symphony trombone section, especially after the upcoming
retirement of my other BSO trombone section colleague, Ronald Barron, in the summer of 2008.
Together Norman and I have shared countless musical moments. They have not all been transcendent - no honest musician will tell you that every moment in performance
is all he would hope it would be. But there have been many, many special moments that we have shared, moments that have forever shaped me. Mahler 7 with
Bernard Haitink, Bruckner 3 with Kurt Sanderling, recording sessions with John Williams, premieres of Norman's compositions, "Le Grotte Cosquer" (duet for
tenor and bass trombone) and "Passions of Survival" (for trombone and orchestra - I conducted the premiere with Norman as soloist). I could not name them all
if I tried. But they are all out there, moments in time that inform other moments. And after today, they take on a new kind of meaning because I know that Norman
and I will not create any more of those moments together as members of the Boston Symphony.
While this transition is difficult and very emotional for me - after all, Norman and I are good friends who have shared music over the last two + decades of
working together - I am very happy for him. Norman and I are nearly the same age - he is five months older than me - but his life path brought him to the Boston
Symphony 10 years before I came in 1985; I held many other jobs before I came to Boston (playing for four years in the Baltimore Symphony, working as a high
school band director for two years and free lancing in New York City for three years). As a result, Norman has an opportunity to take advantage of retirement from the
Boston Symphony at a relatively young age. He has many plans for whatever days he is given in his future. You can read about Norman and his activities on his
blog, frequencybone.blogspot.com and on the website for the company he and his wife manage
that is the umbrella for the publication of Norman's compositions and his and Carol's shared musical endeavor, the "Frequency Band," which is
There is much, much more I could write about such a friend as Norman, and the meaning of this transition. But for now, it is best for me to use the words that
cannot be spoken. I wish my friend well in his new journey and look forward to the continued development of our friendship in the days ahead. This photo, taken
by BSO principal oboist John Ferrillo just a few days ago, shows Ron, Norman and me at Symphony Hall. I like this photo. I like it a lot. There are many stories
behind our eyes. And many more yet to be told.