Apr 08, 2011 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
Syracuse Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Andrew Zaplatynsky played his last concert with the orchestra Saturday, April 2, at Syracuse University’s Setnor Auditorium.
After 30 years with the SSO, the first-chair violinist is retiring. Before the SSO hired him in 1981, Zaplatynsky was assistant concertmaster for the Detroit Symphony and associate concertmaster at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
By happenstance, his retirement coincided with the suspension of the SSO’s golden anniversary season.
After performing Saturday’s program of music by Rossini, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven conducted by Musical Director Dan Hege, the orchestra’s five dozen musicians and one dozen staffers were officially laid off Sunday.
The SSO Board of Directors voted March 29 to suspend its 50th anniversary season after desperate fund-raising efforts left the orchestra more than $1 million short of its goal. Twenty concerts were canceled.
Bach concerto Sunday
Despite the SSO’s suspension, however, Zaplatynsky will continue to make music. He’ll solo in a performance of Bach’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in E Major at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 10, at the DeWitt Community Church, 3600 Erie Blvd. East, where he is a congregant.
Guest conductor Rafaelle Ponti will lead members of the SSO in the Bach concerto written circa 1720 and in John Rutter’s “Requiem,” featuring the DCC Chancel Choir.
Tickets cost $10; 445-0331; dewittchurch.org.
“We’ve assembled some of the area’s finest talent for a program of indescribable beauty,” said Mark Sommers, DCC’s senior minister. “This concert speaks to the transformative power of music and to the vital role it plays it our community.”
Besides being an articulate musician capable of turning written notes into tangible emotion, Zaplatynsky is also an avid and articulate writer and a self-described “news junkie.”
His interests include social and economic policy, education, religion, the arts and ice cream.
“I like to think that I am sensitive to the human condition,” he said, “but I’m skeptical of the schemes that politicians propose to improve our lives.”
Symphony budget struggles
On his LinkedIn blog, “The compassionate skeptic,” he reflected on the financial travails of contemporary American symphony orchestras.
“I have played in five major orchestras over the span of a 40-year career,” Zaplatynsky wrote, “and I have never seen such a severe budget crisis all across the board for what has always been a fragile institution. Symphony budgets consist of three legs; ticket sales (covering no more than 40 percent of the budget), fund-raising and some government support (usually state or local). The current economic climate has seriously damaged all three sources of revenue.”
Gingold’s words of wisdom
The violinist was especially saddened by the Cleveland Orchestra’s budget struggle last year. “That orchestra is one of the truly legendary symphonic ensembles and this is a story that I thought I would never see,” Zaplatynsky wrote. “One of the greatest influences my development, both as a musician and a human being, was Josef Gingold, longtime concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra.
“It was my privilege to study with Josef Gingold, a remarkable artist/teacher at Indiana University. Gingold was not only a great teacher, he was a truly wise human being…
“One time he asked me, ‘Andy, do you know who was the greatest artist that I ever saw?’ I assumed that it would be someone like Jascha Heifetz or Fritz Kreisler. I was wrong. He said, ‘Joe Louis, the boxer.’ I was stunned. Prof. Gingold added, ‘He never made an unnecessary move.’
Hard times come again
“Another unforgettable moment came when he shared with me the hardships of the Great Depression. He spoke of his good fortune of getting a steady job in a New York theater pit orchestra. At times, he would call in sick so that an unemployed colleague would get a call to substitute and make a few dollars. The stories were gripping enough, but what he said afterwards simply floored me…’Andy, remember the world does not owe you a living.'”
Gingold’s words of wisdom now echo in the minds of the 60-plus unemployed musicians of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra.
While Zaplatynsky shares his colleagues’ disappointment with the SSO suspension, after three decades with the orchestra, he’s ready to retire.
“Thirty years is a long run,” he said. “I was blessed!”