Musical Musings

Sarasota Orchestra Musicians Celebrate Their Dads

Chung-Yon Hong, Violin 

My dad walks into a room, and he will be the life of the party. He has led very important companies and traveled literally all over the world. But one thing was clear as I grew up: He worked hard for his family. Because of him, I got to go to my dream school, live in New York City, and play on a beautiful instrument. Happy Father’s Day to one of the hardest working men I know.
CY Hong with her father and son

Betsy Hudson Traba, Principal Flute

My father was the first person to introduce me to classical music, blasting Toscanini recordings on the stereo. I was always told that his first words upon seeing me after I was born were, "She looks like Beethoven." I think of him often when I'm onstage—he was so proud of my career.

Betsy Traba with her father

Jonathan Spivey, Principal Keyboard

My dad was the ultimate family man, the type who never did anything for himself. He was extremely proud of his three children and, in recent years, of his beautiful grandchildren. To this day, when I give any kind of report about his granddaughter Olympia in New York or his grandson the Crew coach, his eyes well up with tears of joy.

He married my mother at the age of 21, and Peggy and Foy were together until her passing in November of 2019. Nobody was ever more kind, more gentle, more loving than my Dad.
Jonathan Spivey's father, Foy

Aaron Tindall, Principal Tuba

Music was always playing in our house. I remember my mom setting the timer, and dad telling me to go sit in the basement to practice my fundamentals out of the Schlossberg Daily Drills and Technical Studies book. He would positively correct me to do them perfectly and learn that dedication to the craft.

When people say, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” I tell them that’s the best compliment I could ever get! Someday, I hope to grow as strong and wise in all matters of life as you, Dad.

Whenever I would fail, he was there to pick me up and put me back on the right path. Without you, your support, encouragement, and guidance, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Happy Father’s Day, Dad, and thank you for everything!
Young Aaron Tindall with his father

Roxane Frangie Solowey, Violin

In loving memory of James J. Frangie and Milton Solowey

Though my father has been gone for 22 years, I still feel his presence ... and miss it too. I am more aware of how he took care of my mother, that he never missed a birthday, his hands, his hugs, the way he said, “Hello, Doll!” (yes, that generation). And now that I wear trifocals, I know why he looked down his nose at me when we were up close. Attention to detail, fierce integrity—and disgust when he didn’t receive it from others—the way he used to sing his frustrations with me: “Careless, you’re so careless.” His love and care for his nieces and nephews who grew up fatherless in the ‘40s and ‘50s.

My father was orphaned and spent ages 6-12 in a home for boys in Brooklyn. His oldest sister pulled him out when she married, and when her husband died, my (not yet) father became a surrogate father to her five young children. My mother would call them his “first family.” He sent them money, presents at Christmas, and, decades later, they would tell me stories of how they would sit by the window waiting for his visits when he was home on leave from the Army.

I have been lucky to have had a father-in-law who was wonderful, warm, loving, generous, and kind. Having grown up in Brooklyn, his accent was similar to my father’s. And I loved the way he said, “Hello Dahling.”

Nathan Frantz, Viola

I did not grow up in a musical family. Neither of my parents played instruments. My grandmother on my father's side could play piano a bit, and my grandfather on my mother's side loved opera, especially the Italian masters. But that was pretty much it; I was not steeped in the traditions of Western music as a young child. It must have been a bit of a surprise then when I came home from school in the second grade and asked my parents if I could play the cello. As the story goes, my father said, "I'm not going to carry that thing around." So I decided, in my seven-year-old-logic, the next best thing would be the viola. Not quite as deep and luxurious as the cello, but certainly better than the shrillness of the violin. I started lessons the next week. Starting on the viola is somewhat of a rarity. Most young string players start on the violin, and then migrate to the viola in high school or even college. I loved playing the viola immediately. It gave me a sense of identity and purpose, something that was unique to me and me alone, it seemed. Over the years, I progressed through a handful of amazing teachers, practiced, performed, practiced, rehearsed, practiced, and eventually got to a point where it is my profession.

Through it all, my dad was behind me. Classical music, and string playing in particular, can be somewhat expensive, exclusive, prohibitive. We were from a smallish town in central Wisconsin, and my dad certainly went through periods of financial stress, but I never knew it at the time. I never missed a lesson. Every week, like clockwork, I would show up at my teacher's doorstep, ready to learn. When my teacher informed my parents that I was ready to take the next step and purchase a real viola, my dad found a way to make that happen, and in the ninth grade I was given an amazing instrument that I played through high school, college, and grad school, and I even won my audition here for Sarasota Orchestra on that instrument. I loved and adored that instrument. Looking back on it, I have no idea how my dad got that instrument for me at that time. It cost as much as a decent used car. My dad didn't know anything about music, the classical music industry, what it takes to become a professional musician, or if this would really pan out for me. He did know that it was something I was passionate about, and something that made me who I am, gave me an identity, and helped me feel important. It was part of me, and he saw that. I would not be a professional violist today without my father seeing within me what I needed, and somehow finding a way to make sure it was available to me year after year. Love you Dad. Happy Father's Day.

Cheeko Matsusaka, Cello

My father was a man of surprises. He was a highly regarded mathematician, specializing in algebraic geometry (pictured with his mentor, Andre Weill). He even had a theorem named after him. I, on the other hand, was far from gifted in any form of mathematics, but it did not seem to bother him too much. At times he seemed almost relieved.

He was a very quiet man, very measured when he did speak, and most of the time he was in his head thinking about mathematics. However, we shared a love of music and for flowers—the more spectacular, the better. I can remember waking up very early in summer mornings to the sounds of him whistling in the garden. He would be tending to the roses, the irises, the huge tulip bed, and the giant peonies—he was very proud of these spectacular, softball-sized buds that would eventually open into plumes of pink and white. He would call for me to bring in buckets full of unopened blooms to my mother. "Your mom loves these," he'd tell me. However, when I would come into the kitchen with the bounty, she would just roll her eyes as she tried to figure out more places to put them and grumble about the clean-up when the flowers would eventually shed billions of petals all over the piano and the carpet.

Needless to say, we were all spoiled by the abundance of his gardening, so when he passed away, the flowers he tended to symbolized him. I can't go by a year without buying peonies in memory of him—the expensive, puny-in-comparison kinds from the big florists. It's my way of saying "Thank you, Dad ... I miss you, I understand, I will appreciate the everyday things and not take them for granted."
Photograph of Cheeko Matsusaka's father with peonies

Fernando Traba, Principal Bassoon

Timoteo Traba was born in Spain in 1913.

He was a bassoon player and became an immigrant when the Spanish Civil War forced him to leave his homeland and emigrate to Mexico in 1939.

Although it has been 21 years since my father passed, every time I think of him, I am grateful for his decision to steer me toward and wholeheartedly support a career in music. He knew before I did that I could do it. Just like him, I have now become an immigrant myself. His teachings allowed me to work in different countries, meet wonderful friends along the way, and best of all, find the best family anybody could wish for. Gracias, Papá!
 Fernando Traba with his father and mother

Anne Chandra, Violin

My dad was my biggest fan. Truthfully, both of my parents were those die-hard fans a child dreams of having. But my dad, being an amateur pianist (an orthodontist by profession), started accompanying me early on, and it was great fun for both of us to play through my violin repertoire, both of us laughing through his and my mistakes, trying to get it together. He was the one who turned the radio to classical music in our house during dinner to encourage me and drove me to the Dayton Philharmonic’s weekend concerts as a teenager. In his last years, he and my mom greeted me (and so many of my colleagues) outside the Van Wezel after every Masterworks series concert to rave about how wonderful we sounded, and how the orchestra just “gets better and better.” He treated everyone the way he wanted to be treated: with incredible kindness and sincerity.
 Anne Chandra with her father

Calvin Falwell, Clarinet/Bass Clarinet

The New York Times has called Bobby Falwell “an elegant sculptor” and his work “delightful and eye-catching.” In a profile by the Courier-Journal, the writer exclaimed that “Falwell proves art can be both pretty and functional.”

Accolades aside, my father has been a real inspiration to my career as a performing artist. His love, support, and advice have helped shape my artistic life. I remember him saying, “Don’t go into the arts if you are not fully committed to it.” I also remember him telling me to slow down and enjoy life. Both important points to live by. Very thankful for the love and support from this man I call Dad.
 Bobby Falwell, artist

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