Exclusive interview with Maestro George Del Gobbo:
Q: For how long have you been playing and performing music?
A: My first experiences with instrumental music happened when I was in grade school, so I have been performing at some level (critics might dispute what that level is) for many decades.
Q: How many and what instruments do you play?
A: I used to play the violin fairly well. I say “used to” because I have not practiced seriously in many years, and if you don’t practice, you really can’t claim any sort of expertise.
Q: What is you favorite part about performing in front of a live audience?
A: A live audience is a necessary component of the creative process in all of the arts. If there is no one to experience what the artist is trying to communicate through his art, then the exercise is meaningless. As performers, a sort of middle man between the creator and the audience, we play an indispensable role in that process. Assuming that role and trying to realize a composer’s intentions for a live audience is always exciting, and sometimes a little dangerous. We’re only human after all.
Q: If you could play any instrument you don’t already know, what would you play?
A: Tough question, every instrument has certain attractions. I like the cello. But deep down I’ve always wished that I could have played in a rock band (at least in my youth). So let’s say guitar: a screaming, shredding, over-the-top, rock guitar.
Q: What are some of your other hobbies?
A: I do not have a lot of “hobbies”. I like to cook. I enjoy exploring books, and will read almost anything. I love sports, of any kind, and much to my wife’s chagrin, have occasionally suddenly pulled off the road (while driving, of course), to watch an inning of a Little League game. I used to participate more actively in sports, but those days may be over, with the exception of a brisk walk, which I don’t really count as a sport.
Q: What is the most bizarre performing experience you have had?
A: Many years ago in the old Three Arts Theater we were nearing the end of a Pops concert, one that featured singer Nancy Wilson. At one point I looked toward the back of the orchestra and there was our Personnel Manager frantically waving her arms. I ignored her (What could she possibly want?) but she persisted. Finally she mouthed the word “FIRE” and pointed off stage. Eventually I figured it out. I had to whisper into Ms.Wilson’s ear that there seemed to be a fire backstage and that we had to end the concert immediately. The audience left the hall only to be confronted by several fire trucks. It seems that our electrical panel was smoking, so there was really no fire, but that was the Three Arts. (I remember “fondly” the time there was a horrible stench in the theater and after a dress rehearsal we had to search for a dead rat. Ah, the Three Arts.)
Q: What is your favorite music genre to listen to?
A: I don’t listen to music very much. After working with music all day long, that’s usually the last thing I want to do. But when I do listen, I will listen to almost every kind off music.
Q: What musician or group of musicians inspires you the most?
A: I am inspired by anyone who is good at what they do, in any pursuit. Th first orchestra that really captured my attention was the Berlin Philharmonic of the 1960s and ‘70s. It was like chamber music for ninety players. Remarkable.
Q: Are you excited for the upcoming performance of Prokofiev’s Masterpiece?
A: I am excited before, and during, (and usually after) all of our concerts. The Prokofiev Fifth Symphony presents many formidable challenges.
Q: Which three people (famous or otherwise) would you like to invite to a dinner party, and why?
A: I hate these “desert island” questions. I can’t even begin to answer. When I try to think about it, my brain short circuits. There are simply too many appealing possibilities.
Q: What accomplishment in your life are you most proud of?
A: Although it may be more an accomplishment of my wife, Sharon, I am very proud that we raised two smart, vital, passionate, independent daughters. It’s a good thing when your children grow to be better people than you are. I am also very proud of the musicians of the CSO and all the wonderful music they have given to us these many years.
Q: Do you have a nickname? How did you get it?
A: I don’t have any nicknames in current use, at least none that anyone uses in my presence. Who knows what goes on behind my back?
Q: What did you want to be when you grew up?
A: My earliest inclinations were to try something in the sciences. As a child I had a rather extensive chemistry set and used to enjoy going to my “lab” down in the basement and creating all sorts of unpleasant odors, odors which annoyed my father no end. But soon after I became involved with the violin, it was music for me.
Q: In the past thirty years with the CSO what has been the greatest experience?
A: The greatest experience, and the greatest pleasure, has been the opportunity to work with so many wonderful musicians. Making music is a very intimate activity, and when you share that with fellow musicians, they become a part of your life in a way that most co-workers do not.