Playbill: What inspired you to become a musician?
Barbara Sudweeks, associate principal viola, 30 years: My parents are both amateur musicians. My dad played the violin and my mom sang and played the piano. When I was very young, I remember my dad would get his violin out and he and my mother would play duets after I was in bed at night. It was a nice way to go to sleep. Mother started me on the piano when I was four and when I was seven she asked me if I wanted to play the violin. It seemed like a good thing to do because my dad did it! I always loved music, but playing it was just something I did every day. I was in high school when I first realized I wanted to be a professional musician. I always loved the mellow string sounds, so I switched to the viola after I graduated from high school.
Daniel Florio, percussion, 10 years: When I was a kid the local high school marching band marched right down my street collecting donations. The sound of the percussion section‹the power, the precision‹absolutely knocked me out. Also there was a neighbor kid who sometimes played his drum set outdoors, with the same effect‹I was dumbstruck, mesmerized by sound. Later, during my first youth orchestra rehearsal, it was the sound of the violins that produced a religious experience for me: it wasn't the 'dead' sound of recorded music; it was more like the sound itself was alive, as if it had a soul, a consciousness.
Bruce Patti, violin, 25 years: I come from a musical family. My grandmother played organ for the silent movies. My grandfather was the first clarinet student at Eastman School of Music. My father was a Big Band (swing) leader. My four brothers and I all had private music lessons with members of the Cleveland Orchestra and all went into the music profession.
PB: What has been your favorite concert with the DSO? Why?
Jean Larson Garver, principal flute, 35 years: The very first family concert (free), which we gave during the opening of the Meyerson. The lines were down the street with people of every ethnic background and all ages, and they loved us!
Willa Henigman, associate principal oboe, 10 years: Our London "Proms" concert on the 1997 European tour, because the audience fanned us with their programs (it was so hot) and waved American flags during the encore.
Greg Hustis, principal horn, 30 years: There are too many to list.
Daniel Florio, percussion, 10 years: Mahler Symphony No. 1, September 2001‹the weekend after one of the most horrible days in American history, we played with such emotion. It was like rubbing a balm on our spiritual wounds. I even saw a man in the choral terrace weeping at the end. Only music can do this‹words fail in the face of such tragedy.
PB: Describe some of your hobbies.
Erin Hannigan, oboe, 5 years: I love reading (mostly contemporary fiction), playing with my dogs, and riding a unicycle.
Jean Larson Garver, principal flute, 35 years: I love nature, so I love to hike, swim, play tennis, and kayak with my husband. I love gardening and doing flower arranging from wild grasses and flowers.
Roger Fratena, associate principal bass, 35 years: I like teaching, composing ragtime music, walking, and antique cars.
Dawn Stahler, violin, 25 years: I play golf. I love science, in particular biology, and take classes every once in a while at UTA. I took genetics there this past summer. I enjoy finance, especially real estate and the stock market, and I love reading books. I'm also an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan!
Barbara Sudweeks, associate principal viola, 30 years: I love to knit. I always have two or three projects going. It is relaxing and satisfying because you can see immediate results. There are many knitters in the orchestra. At breaks we all pull out our knitting and see how much we can get done in 15 minutes! I also enjoy canning. I like to make preserves, jams, and pickles. I used to enter them in the Texas State Fair, but I haven't had time to do that for the past few years.
PB: Do you play other instruments?
Barbara Sudweeks, associate principal viola, 30 years: I enjoy Chinese music and playing the Chinese erhu. It is a bowed string instrument that has been around for about 1,200 years. I have had the opportunity to go to China three times and Taiwan once to perform with the erhu. I have also performed here in Dallas many times.
Dawn Stahler, violin, 25 years: Viola, piano, organ, and mandolin.
Bruce Patti, violin, 25 years: I compose music and have won many ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) awards.
PB: Anything else you would like to share?
Daniel Florio, percussion, 10 years: I enjoy my CDs, I love live rock and jazz and other forms of music, but there is something about a great symphony orchestra in a great concert hall that absolutely cannot be reproduced in any other way. Many people simply do not know this, and the best advertising is word-of-mouth. Please, encourage everyone you know to come to the Meyerson and to experience what only live music can do. There's a little bit of magic happening nearly every weekend right here in Dallas‹spread the word!
Pictured below, first row: Roger Fratena (35 years), Dawn Stahler (25), Erin Hannigan (5), Paul Capehart (35), Barbara Sudweeks (30), Greg Hustis (30), Gary Levinson (5); second row: Willa Henigman (10), Dan Florio (10), Jean Larson Garver (35), Daphne Volle (10), Nicole Cash (5), Diane Kitzman (25); third row: David Matthews (15), Delmar Pettys (20), Bruce Patti (25)