Today I was a member of a panel discussion with fellow faculty members from George Mason as part of a workshop in Prince William County, Virginia. It was great for me to get to know the stories of some of my colleagues a little better. There was one anecdote in particular that left a lasting impression. Dr. Lorrie Berkshire Brown is our Woodwind Area Coordinator and Oboe Professor at Mason. I have played with her in the American Festival Pops Orchestra and instantly noticed her fantastic playing. Until today I didn't realize she subbed with the New York Philharmonic for seven years before fully committing to the DC area as a member of The United States Army Band, “Pershing’s Own.” The story of how she got to play with the Philharmonic the first time is not atypical but still a great reminder for us all.
One afternoon in 1988, Lorrie got a phone call at 4:00 pm asking if she was available to play with the New York Philharmonic that night. They needed a second oboe for the Dvorak Cello Concerto, which she described as "the mother of all second oboe parts." She not only said yes, but it obviously went very well since she played with them for another seven years.
While it took a little bit of being in the right place at the right time (she was home and took the call), the important thing is that she was ready for the call. She not only took the call but was ready with basically no warning whatsoever to go and nail one of the difficult parts in the orchestral oboe repertoire. She got an opportunity and made the most of it.
Are you ready for the call?