Member Since 2004
My mother Lucia plays piano and she started me on lessons when I started school, but I never really took to it. I started playing violin in the APS [Albuquerque Public Schools] music program in third grade. That would have been around 1974. Likely I would never have thought of trying that if my older brother Ralph had not started two years earlier. He was good at it and seemed to enjoy it, as did my parents and grandparents. He started on violin but transferred to viola before high school.
The APS had a phenomenal fully funded strings program, available to anyone who wanted to learn and play from grades 3 through 12. Also, our grade school strings teacher, Mrs. Wilson, was an inspiring person and energetic promoter of music education and her students, who numbered in the hundreds at any given time. We were lucky enough to have parents who were willing to pay for private lessons starting in middle school, and were able to make it into city-wide honors orchestras; Valley Junior Orchestra in middle school and Albuquerque Youth Orchestra / Youth Symphony during high school (you also had to play in your school’s orchestra). I understand these programs are still quite good, but are now essentially funded by parents and fundraising.
This background allowed me to play the violin in college, with the Princeton University Orchestra, and as part of the pit orchestra for the Mozart opera Cosi Fan Tutte. I also played in the Shanghai Conservatory Amateur orchestra for a year when I taught English at Fudan University during a fellowship year after college. During law school and for about twelve years after that, practicing law and helping raise two children, music was pretty much put on hold. I got interested again when my son started learning violin and we were able to play together.
I found out about OCO and joined in 2004 after my wife introduced me to Margaret Wu, who worked at her law firm. I’m grateful the OCO exists and that it is so welcoming to returning players. I especially like that it’s a collaborative, community endeavor, as it feels very different from the school orchestras I played in before, which seemed unduly focused on competition rather than on artistic learning and having fun. It’s been a welcome escape from real life as a lawyer and has helped keep things balanced. Athletics have also played a big part. I run and try to play pick-up soccer once a week.