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Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts will be rededicated as Marian Anderson Hall, home of The Philadelphia Orchestra

Derek Barnes

Musicians Behind the Scenes

Posted by:  The Philadelphia Orchestra on February 01, 2024

Where were you born? I was born in Philadelphia.

What piece of music could you play over and over again? For solo cello, Bach’s Suites. For Orchestra, Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben (difficult and fun).

What is your most treasured possession? Hard to choose between my current car, a 2008 BMW M3, or our amazing La Marzocco espresso machine.

What’s your favorite Philadelphia restaurant? In the past it was Le Bec Fin. Currently there are several: Urban Farmer, where I had a 72-day aged steak, and Elixr Coffee at all of its many locations.

Tell us about your instrument. I play a 1740 “no name” Italian cello. There are lots of “stories,” i.e. repairs.

What’s in your instrument case? I have four instruments: an old Italian one (see above); a 1970 LaMay that my brother Dorian finished in 2005 (the maker passed away before finishing it); a five-string cello that I had converted to play Bach’s Sixth Suite; and a carbon fiber cello for fun. In my “daily use” cases there are (besides normal items like rosin, pencil, and spare strings) a nail file, allergy pills, and cough drops.

When did you join the Orchestra? I joined in 1995. 

Do you play any other instruments? Piano was my first instrument at age five. I also played bassoon and percussion in high school. 

What’s your favorite type of food? In no particular order, steak, sushi, and pizza.

Do you speak any other languages? A very small amount of French and an even smaller amount of Chinese.

Do you have any hobbies? Too many: driving my car on racetracks in the summer; road cycling; cooking; tinkering with my car, bicycles, and home repairs; coffee; working on bows (rehairing and repairing); machining small metal parts; for a while surf fishing; and model helicopter building and flying. 

Is there a piece of music that isn’t in the standard orchestral repertoire that should be? I wish we could play Tchaikovsky’s and Dvořák’s Serenades for Strings more often!

What’s on your iPod? I don’t have an iPod but downloaded Pink Floyd’s The Wall for a bicycle ride I was leading and played it during the climb up the Manayunk Wall.

When was the first time you heard The Philadelphia Orchestra? Probably as a baby. My father was a violist in the Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy. After that, the first I remember was as a student at the Curtis Institute of Music; Bill Stokking (former principal cello) was playing Strauss’s Don Quixote.

Other than Verizon Hall, where is your favorite place to perform? Carnegie Hall. The sound, response, and warmth of the hall is amazing!

Extra credit: If I could choose another career it would be as an F1 driver or machinist, or both.

Photo: Jessica Griffin

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