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Symphony musicians let their hair down at Al's

Some people think symphony musicians are elitist stuffed shirts.

No way! They're regular guys and gals like the rest of us, and every now and then they let their long hair down and knock back a few cocktails.

For instance, the day before award-winning pianist Ilya Yakushev performed Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor" with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra here Oct. 1 and 2, he spoke informally at "Rachmaninoff on the Rocks," at Al's Wine and Whiskey Lounge, downtown.

Four SSO musicians, trombonist Matt Wright, violinist Stephanie Koppeis, oboist Monica Fosnaugh and principal percussionist Michael Bull also discussed their craft, as a few of Al's regulars and some curious SSO supporters listened to anecdotes about the composers and compositions for that week's concert

"Try saying Rachmaninoff after a few hours at Al's!" quipped Fred Klemperer, SSO first violin.

Klemperer, who also golfs, gardens and plays softball and racquetball, extended his sincere thanks to audience members who've supported the orchestra.

"Our Central New York audiences have supported the musicians through thick and thin over the years," Klemperer said. "At times, when the lights seemed to be dimming for the orchestra, the audience made sure they stayed on and that we knew we were valued."

The next night, Yakushev - filling in for Olga Kern who'd been sidelined by strep throat - earned two curtain calls from a thoroughly impressed SSO audience at the Civic Center's Crouse Hinds Concert Theater.

Fabio dons 'Three-Cornered Hat'Another handful of musicians will gather at Al's (Awful no longer) Wine & Whiskey Lounge, 321 S. Clinton St., at 5 p.m. Thursday Oct. 28 to chat about the Oct. 29-30 performance of music from "The Three-Cornered Hat," a Spanish ballet by Manuel de Falla.

Fabio Mechetti, the Brazilian-born music director of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, will return to conduct next weekend's concerts here. He was associate conductor of the SS from 1989 to 1993. For concert tickets, call 424-8200, or visit syracusesymphony.org.

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