On the artistic benefits of long musician tenures at the San Francisco Symphony

Posted on: June 30, 2022

“It was 1990 when Steven Braunstein first moved to the Bay Area … to take a job as the San Francisco Symphony’s contrabassoonist,” writes Joshua Kosman in Friday’s (6/24) San Francisco Chronicle. “More than three decades later, on Tuesday, June 21, Braunstein announced his retirement…. Across the seasons, Braunstein has performed … memorable contrabassoon solos.… Braunstein is far from alone in being a lifer…. Stephen Paulson, the principal bassoonist … has occupied his post since 1977… He continues to play with tenderness, clarity and wit. Principal horn Robert Ward joined the orchestra in 1980…. Concertmaster Alexander Barantschik has been with the orchestra for more than 20 years…. The stability of an orchestra contributes to the consistency and character of its artistry, [creating] a distinctive musical style that is ideally a reflection of long and close collaboration. ‘It develops out of respect and trust and listening,’ Braunstein told me…. The orchestra is facing a comparatively large turnover in personnel, due in part to the number of members who decided that the pandemic shutdown was an opportune time to retire…. ‘The culture of how the orchestra plays needs to be nurtured, so that the good things we’ve achieved over the last 30 or 40 years won’t evaporate,’ Braunstein said.”