At the end of this season, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra says goodbye to over 435 years of musical experience.
In June, the OSM honors the retirement of nine orchestra members and the symphony orchestra’s long-time principal music librarian. Many retirees joined in the 1970s, pre-CD and pre-internet. Unlike Moses, most have crossed the promised land, performing in the OSM’s dream home, the Bradley Symphony Center.
Retirees and the years they joined the MSO full-time include:
- Laura Snyder, bass, 1970.
- Mike Giacobassi, violin, 1974.
- Gregory Mathews, cello, 1975.
- Kathleen Collisson, cello, 1977.
- Karen Smith, violin, 1977.
- Rip Pretat, bass, 1978.
- Catherine McGinn, bass, 1979.
- William Helmers, clarinet, 1980.
- Patrick McGinn, music librarian, 1981.
- Scott Kreger, bass, 1985.
Snyder, Smith and Collisson officially retired during the months the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the MSO from fully performing in public. The others retire at the end of the current season.
Nine musicians retiring mean that the OSM is replacing more than 13% of its full staff of 66 musicians.
“We’ve had several auditions this season and will have replacements for some of the retirees at the start of the season in September,” Bret Dorhout, vice president of artistic planning, said in an emailed message. auditions next season to hopefully fill the rest of the vacancies.”
One-sided music directors, such as MSOs Ken-David Masur, shaping an orchestra comes down to the musicians they hire, Dorhout noted.
“Unfortunately, due to COVID, we were unable to hold auditions for almost 18 months. Other orchestras have done the same, so there are many more auditions across the country competing for the dates and candidates,” Dorhout said.
Some of the OSM retirees have played important musical and institutional roles here. For many years, Snyder was the only black musician in the orchestra. Trained in the contralto, she has also sung several times with the OSM. For a sense of historical context and legacy, consider this: Snyder joined the MSO the same year the Milwaukee Brewers began playing in Milwaukee.
Here Helmers performed the world premiere of James Grant’s Concerto for Bass Clarinet with the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra. He was a mainstay of the Present Music ensemble, performing music from the 20th and 21st centuries. He has also performed and recorded extensively in other musical contexts.
In addition to his low responsibilities, Prétat acted as the OSM’s assistant director of personnel for more than 30 years, coordinating local and national auditions.
As chairman of the players’ council in 2013, Kreger worked with the directors of MSO to forge the deal that averted a financial crisis.
Music librarian McGinn also performed with the orchestra as a percussionist.
Beyond their stars, these musicians have enriched the local music ecosystem in more subtle ways, giving private lessons, participating in the MSO’s Arts in Community Education program, training young musicians in the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra and teaching and performing in local and regional institutions. and parties.