From Concertmaster, Ken Johnston
I have been honored by an invitation to play with the Pittsburgh Symphony on a full time basis for this year’s orchestral season. As it goes with many such opportunities in life, good news is often accompanied by a disappointment; in this case, I will have to say goodbye, temporarily, to you and my many friends in the Erie Philharmonic.
For each of us, there are times when it’s healthy to leave home now and again, and this is one of those times for me. When I return next year however, I will bring with me a few more honed skills...and many stories!
Underneath the surface of an orchestra are a great many moving parts. Just as in the gliding swan analogy, wherein the swan appears to move effortlessly because you don’t see the churning legs under the water, good ensemble playing requires lots of connections to happen across the stage between various players, and the concertmaster chair is an important “hub” for these connections to take place. The concertmasters I’ve admired seem rarely to look at their own parts; their eyes and ears are at all times elsewhere. They must interpret what a conductor wants, and with their playing and demeanor, somehow feed this into the mix of what’s happening around the stage. The violinists who sit in that chair must bring with them much more than just good playing. They bring a sense of situational awareness, knowledge of repertoire far beyond simply the violin parts, and a deft touch in the many musical interactions that take place onstage. In my place this year will be some very strong guest concertmasters! Their contributions will become part of the story of the Erie Philharmonic as it grows and evolves.
I will miss the many familiar faces I see from onstage! Stay well, continue to enjoy what has truly become a world class orchestra, and I will look forward to seeing you next year.
Ken Johnston will appear as part of the Bruce Morton Wright Chamber Series on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 at 7:30pm. The concert will feature 6 principal players from the Erie Philharmonic at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Paul.