Musical Musings

The Sarasota Orchestra Blog

Dmitri ShostakovichAs a composer active during Stalin’s regime, Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-75) is inextricably linked with the political climate of the time. During the course of his career, he constantly walked a fine line between artistic freedom and the demands of the cultural police.

Shostakovich had reason to be nervous. A work’s reception meant much more than a good or bad review—it literally could mean life and death.

"It didn’t matter how the audience reacted to your work or if the critics liked it. All that had no meaning in the final analysis. There was only one question of life or death: how did the leader like your opus?"

Dmitri Shostakovich, excerpt from his autobiography Testimony

In spite of the constant undercurrent of strain running through his life, Shostakovich was reportedly a good-natured person—and the Festive Overture’s creation reflects this. The work sprang to life in fall 1954 at the request of the Bolshoi Theater Orchestra, which suddenly found itself in need of a new work to commemorate the October Revolution.

"It is just the most joyous romp that you can imagine. I love playing that piece."

Betsy Hudson Traba, principal flute with the Sarasota Orchestra

Learn more about the first Masterworks concert of the season, The Emperor, here. The concert takes place November 6 - 8 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.

{adapted from Program Notes written by Jennifer Glagov}

Jay Hunsberger

Jay Hunsberger, principal tuba with the Sarasota Orchestra for the past 27 years, didn't always know he wanted to be a musician. "I wanted to be an oceanographer first, then I thought I was going to be a professional swimmer, but then I wised up... I decided in about the eight- or ninth-grade that being a musician was what I wanted to do."

What made him decide to do that? Jay laughs and says with a smile, "Probably because I wasn't smart enough to do anything else."

I beg to differ. As principal clarinet Bharat Chandra so aptly put, Jay is one of the greatest leaders and musicians of the Sarasota Orchestra, as well as an extraordinary member of our community. Bharat said, "I don't know a single person who's not proud of and in admiration of Jay Hunsberger." I couldn't agree more. He's humble about his extensive and impressive career, and never fails to make everyone in the room smile.

In addition to his many proud moments as a renowned tuba player, Jay feels it's his mission to change the public perception of the largest and lowest member of the brass family. "I love the tuba because it's misunderstood. I think people assume it's one thing, and in my opinion, it's quite a beautiful, melodic and a very versatile instrument. Great composers over the course of history have recognized that and written some great music for the tuba."

This Thursday, you'll get to hear him play David Carlson's Concerto for Tuba, supported by many other members of the Sarasota Orchestra: Daniel Jordan, violin; Anne Bobilin, violin; Laura Jensen-Jennings, violin; Margot Zarzycka, violin; Matthew Pegis, viola; Michael McClelland, viola; Jake Muzzy, cello; Chizuko Matsusaka, cello; John Miller, bass; and Cheryl Losey, harp.

"I'm so blessed to have, really, the greatest colleagues in the world," says Jay.

Join us at Quintets & Tuba this Thursday, October 1 at Holley Hall. More info here.


Joshua Horne may be a self-proclaimed nerd, but you wouldn't know that just by looking at him. When I first met him, all I could think was, "Wow! This guy is so nice!" His soft-spoken nature and surge of enthusiasm for the Sarasota Orchestra was endearing.

Joshua grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and dreamed of playing the drums. But, he eventually chose the French Horn because his father also played it. And the rest, as they say, is history. After attending the University of Texas where he studied horn performance under Patrick Hughes, he went on to Rice University in Houston, TX under the tutelage of William VerMeulen.

Joshua said, "Without him, I can't honestly say I'd be here. He really pushed me. And when I won this job, he was the first person I called."

Now in his second year with the organization, he says he couldn't be more blessed and he absolutely loves it!

When he's not rehearsing or performing, Joshua loves the art of story-telling and spends a lot of time listening to podcasts. Joshua has also been taking in all the culinary treats of Sarasota. His list of favorites includes JDubs Brewing Company, Mandeville Beer Garden and Station 400. He especially enjoys playing cornhole (bean bag toss) in the airy backyard space at JDubs.

I'm looking forward to hearing Joshua play in many of the upcoming Chamber Soiree concerts and Masterworks this season.

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Reviews

Written byHerald Tribune

 Literally gripping the arms of my seat, I was not the only one propelled on this rollercoaster of delightful music.  

Written byHerald Tribune

 Every section and soloist within the orchestra played their role with strength and beauty; every tree proud and tall. Tali served as an excellent guide leading the forces with assured confidence. The overall sound was lush and, yes, intense just where it needed to be.  

Written byHerald Tribune

 The Sarasota Orchestra was brimming with bubbling energy...  

Written byHerald Tribune

 A lifetime of musical moments, cinematic in scope, gave every section of the orchestra a leading role at one time or another. Chief among them was the virtuosic solo of concertmaster Daniel Jordan.  

Written byHerald Tribune

 It was a thrill ride resulting in an explosion of audience enthusiasm.  

Written byThe Observer

 Andrew Lane, the Orchestra’s Principal Pops Conductor, knows how to program a winning event and this concert had something for everyone. It also brought in a whole new audience that seemed dazzled by the performances.  

Written byThe Observer

 The Sarasota Orchestra played a program this past weekend filled with so much color, it was like visiting the Louvre.  

Written byHerald Tribune

 The performance... was exceptional, bringing new and stunning sonorities from a larger than usual Sarasota Orchestra under the dynamic leadership of Anu Tali.  

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CY Hong

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