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Darby Hinshaw, Principal Horn

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See Darby’s YouTube channel.

Maestro Alasdair Neale first met Darby when he auditioned for the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra (SFSYO) during his sophomore year in high school. At that time, Alasdair was the Associate Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony and Music Director of the SFSYO.

If you were fortunate enough to attend church at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice in 1590, you would have had the experience of a lifetime, thanks to the music of Italian composer and organist Giovanni Gabrieli. During these past several months [March-July 2020], Darby has been recreating a bit of that magic. He’s been experimenting with multi-track recordings of a collection of canzoni and sonatas written by Gabrieli.

Nicky Roosevelt, Second Horn

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As of 2020, I have been 41 years in the Bay Area and 39 years with Marin Symphony. I’ve always liked the sound and the range of the French horn. In orchestral music, the horn gets to play both solos and in quartets. There are sometimes as many as 10 horns playing at one time on stage! In rehearsals with Alasdair, the orchestra laughs and enjoys the process of working on and playing music together. My favorite moment was performing with Itzhak Perlman. Favorite composers of mine are Brahms and Mahler. In addition to being a musician, I enjoy hiking, travel, sports, and massage. I found that I liked doing massage and could help my music colleagues, so I got training and actually have been a professional massage therapist for 25 years.

Bruce Chrisp, Principal Trombone

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Zachariah Spellman, Principal Tuba

Interview by Lily O’Brien
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Zachariah Spellman is passionate about the tuba. He has been the principal tubist for Marin Symphony and the Golden Gate Brass since 1980, and for the San Francisco Opera Orchestra since 1977. He is also a member of the Aurio Trio, an active member of the San Francisco Symphony’s Adventures in Music program, and much, much more.

What do you like about playing with Marin Symphony?

The quality of the players in the orchestra—we really work together, and it is such a pleasurable experience working with Alasdair Neale.

How did you come to play the tuba?

My parents had other expectations for me—they wanted me to be a famous musician, a conductor or a pianist or something notable, but I knew at the age of 11 what I was going to do all my life. Why would I want to do anything else?!

What are the challenges of playing tuba?

There are so many, but it really depends on what the tuba player is asked to do. Playing high notes is a real challenge and is holding onto it for long periods of time.

How often and for how long do you practice?

I practice every day. My warm-up lasts about 30-to-40 minutes—that’s just to get the muscles prepared to work. Then I’ll work another hour-and-a-half to two hours before I go to a rehearsal or a performance.

Are there any other instruments that you like to play?

I love playing the harmonica. I took harmonica lessons a few years ago, and I’m so glad that I did. So when I just need to have an instrument to play for pleasure, to express my musical needs, I have a harmonica handy for that.

What do you do for fun?

I love to take walks around San Francisco. I find I learn so much about it just about every day. And I love sharing that with my wife Susan—taking walks, going to a neighborhood we haven’t seen in a long time, or having lunch somewhere.

What are the challenges and what are the joys of playing music professionally?

The challenges are hitting the right notes, and the joys come from the satisfaction that I get just from that experience. The amazing response from the audience and the acknowledgments from my colleagues are also very gratifying and satisfying.

Do you have any favorite musical artists?

One of my favorite artists is Joni Mitchell—I can never get enough.

Any interests or activities you are passionate about?

I am a member of the Green Street Mortuary Band—I have been doing if for over 30 years. We wear black suits and light military band hats and we march in formation and we play the numbers in our flip folders. It’s a tradition that’s over 100 years old. It’s a wonderful, very respectful and honorable thing to do for the community.

If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would it be?

North Beach, to get coffee beans and have lunch at Original Joe’s.

What do you think your pet would say about you?

My cat Cali would say, “Oh, these guys, they’re never around. They’re always going out someplace to have lunch or dinner, and I just want somebody to lie down so I can curl up and sleep on them.”

Tell me something about yourself that might surprise people.

I was once a rock ‘n’ roll bass player.

What do you think music does for people? Why is it important?

My understanding is that we are probably the only species that goes to such an extent to spend incredible amounts of money listening to music in one form or another. We really need music—we can’t fight those forces of nature.

What are you most grateful for in your life?

That I understand how to share music—with anybody.

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