Happy happy November!
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So from time to time, we will update you with a focus on a musician from Symphony in C. This week, I had the opportunity to put the spotlight on Dan Sharp!
Aside from being an awesome and very nice person, he is a talented flautist and piccolo player – and is our wonderful piccolo player for Symphony in C. (Did you hear his impeccable runs in the third movement of Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony at our October concert? Quite fabulous, if I do say so myself!) Daniel is a Philadelphia native and received his Bachelor’s of Music from Temple University in 2009. He is now on the other side of the country currently working on a Master’s in Flute Performance with Timothy Day at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Dan’s heart lies in orchestral performance, and hopes to one day have a full-time position with a professional orchestra, specifically playing piccolo. It is the orchestral challenges the piccolo presents that engage and excite him.
He commutes back to the east coast to perform concerts with Symphony in C.
Aileen: So where did you grow up and start playing the flute? Why did you choose the flute? Who and what were/are your inspirations? How did you get into music?
Dan: I grew up in Monroeville, NJ (Salem County). Monroeville is a small agricultural town where the livestock population might outnumber the human population. My mother always played James Galway’s Christmas album around the Holidays, as well as some of his other records. When I was given the opportunity, at age nine, to choose an instrument for the elementary school’s band program, I had already fallen in love with the sound of the flute. Interestingly, I remember watching a video some years before in a school music class that profiled all the instruments of the orchestra. I remember being very interested in the piccolo! The school music teacher told me that I would need to learn the flute first. I remember making “model” flutes and piccolos out of scrap materials from my dad’s wood-working shop. Since seeing that video in music class, the 4th grade music program couldn’t come fast enough. I remember the first night I got my first flute. We didn’t have enough money to buy, or even rent, an instrument. A classmate’s older sister had given up on her flute studies and their family loaned us the instrument. I remember looking at the flute, putting it together, and not knowing anything about where to put my fingers, just trying to get sounds out of it. From the beginning, the flute was something that I wanted to figure out for myself. Something that interested me deeply. I often worked ahead in the school music book, learning new notes and fingerings. I couldn’t learn it fast enough.
Aileen: Best musical experience?
Dan: Many of my fondest musical memories are from my High School days with the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra and the Settlement Music School.
With Symphony in C, I remember my first concert most vividly. It was before I was an actual member. I was called to sub for a concert with Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 11 on the program. It was my first professional gig playing piccolo. The part is extremely difficult and I remember being nervous and excited at the same time. I remember having so much fun wailing away on the furious passages of that symphony and thinking to myself, this is what I want to do with my life. This is why I am working so hard, for these kinds of moments. That Symphony also has profound historical messages regarding the 1911 massacre. Feeling that emotional connection with those who lost their lives and the music that Shostakovich wrote for them had a deep impact on me.
Aileen: What are your reasonings for making this big commute from California?
Dan: I travel for the Symphony in C Performances because they have a great deal of musical value to me. The level of this orchestra is extremely high, as you know, and the performances as always rewarding for both musicians and audience members. Working with Rossen [Milanov] has been a major part of my musical development. He not only demands technical accuracy within rehearsals and performances, but he demands musical awareness and emotional commitment. The emotional, musical connection between orchestra members, conductor, and audience is what brings me to the east coast for these performances. I also feel that the repertoire I have learned in this orchestra has challenged me as an instrumentalist. Each time I perform with this orchestra, I feel like my musical level has risen.
Aileen: What do you like/love about this orchestra?
Dan: I love the risks that this orchestra can take. We are young. Our technical level is extremely high. And we are well versed in tradition. That means that we can take the opportunity to give our audience something new, something bold, and something exciting. I also love the commitment that this orchestra requires. Usually, we only get one chance to perform our program. We had better not only get it right, we had better make it count. This kind of environment appeals to me. Many of our patrons have heard the standards of the Orchestral repertoire many, many times before. They know the music and have heard it played by fabulous orchestra, including the Philadelphia Orchestra. I think they come to our concerts to hear something new and exciting. We have the opportunity and resources to give them just that.
— Aileen Rimando