Sandy Clark

  • Posted on: 17 March 2015
  • By: Admin

Remembering Gordon: Gordon loomed large in my life and mind during the years I played in the flute section of the FSO under his baton (January 1979 until he retired). It was my first experience playing in an orchestra and I felt incredibly fortunate for the opportunity, and often terrified in the rehearsals. Although I grew to love Gordon dearly, enjoyed his humor enormously, and appreciated the incredible experiences he made possible for the Arctic Chamber Orchestra, always lurking near the surface was the knowledge that a few critical words from him could intimidate me completely. Perhaps we were paranoid, but it seemed to the flute section that we were held to some higher standard than the rest of the orchestra. Whenever we had a piece with a busy flute part, we felt certain that we were going to have to play our parts alone in the rehearsal. This had the beneficial effect of making us practice our tushes off and meet for frequent sectionals, more than any time since then, but didn't seem to get Gordon off our case. In contrast, Gordon seemed remarkably patient when the ACO was touring in China and there was a piccolo solo in a piece for solo clarinet (Ted DeCorso) and orchestra which I couldn't play for the life of me. It wasn't even difficult, and I could nail it over and over when I was warming up or practicing, but every time we came to that spot in a performance there was silence, or some weird stuff that WASN'T the solo. The one time Gordon said anything piercing about my woeful solo was when the orchestra was on the way to tour a polyester factory, and I offered my opinion that "Reznicek is to good music as polyester is to silk." Of course, that may not have been the best thing to say to the man who was probably the world expert on Reznicek, and it seemed quite restrained that his response was a grumbled, "Just play that piccolo solo, Sandra." (For the record, at our final concert of the China tour, in Shanghai, I played the solo correctly. Apparently this was so disconcerting that at least one violinist lost her place!) I will always be grateful to Gordon for his dedication to sharing music. The impact this had on me was the unique experience of playing great, and even not-so-great, orchestral pieces. But his far wider impact was in the towns and villages of Alaska where the Arctic Chamber Orchestra performed for people who had never heard a live classical concert; and in the Fairbanks audience who benefited from Gordon's development of the Fairbanks Symphony and founding of the Arctic Chamber Orchestra; and most of all in the hearts of the musicians who played in his orchestras. Sandy Clark