One October day in 1992, Fernando Traba stepped off a plane and into his first season as Principal Bassoon with Sarasota Orchestra. To his astonishment, a bassoon trio made up of his new colleagues stood at the airport gate and, upon spotting Fernando, they burst into a fanfare of Mexican dance music.
“From the very beginning, Sarasota Orchestra welcomed me,” Fernando says. Before that, Fernando served as Principal Bassoon with orchestras in his native Mexico, as well as Portugal and Spain. He says that the musicians’ camaraderie makes Sarasota Orchestra exceptional.
“I’ve been a witness to how much the Orchestra has grown in more than 30 years,” Fernando says. “The level of the Orchestra has gone up incredibly, and it's still a very friendly place to work.”
His time with Sarasota Orchestra sparkles with highlights, including this season’s concerts with musical icons such as Yo-Yo Ma and Peter Oundjian. Fernando still marvels at a marathon Masterworks weekend in 1996, in which he performed Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto, then returned to the woodwind section to tackle Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony in the concert’s second half! But meeting and marrying Betsy Hudson Traba, Principal Flute, has been the most phenomenal experience of all.
“When I came here, I had no idea what my life was going to be like—and now I have a wife and two beautiful daughters,” he says.
“What I love about Sarasota Orchestra is how friendships with the musicians and staff are promoted and encouraged,” says Orchestra supporter Sheila Vincent. “But before I ever had a chance to speak with Fernando and get to know him, I was mesmerized by the way he played his instrument. I love the purity of his notes.”
To celebrate her 65th birthday, Sheila picked out an extraordinary gift for herself: She chose to endow Fernando’s chair. In addition to underwriting a musician’s salary and benefits for a fixed number of years, Sarasota Orchestra’s chair endowments offer tremendous moral support to the musician they recognize.
When Sheila gave Fernando the news at her birthday party, he was swept up in equal parts shock, elation, and gratitude.
Fernando says, “I thank my friend Sheila for not only endowing my chair, but also for putting another stone in the foundation of this organization and helping Sarasota Orchestra thrive into the future.”
Image: Fernando and Sheila at her 65th birthday celebration