Need info on Broadway, jazz, family, comedy or other genres? Visit


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

Paul Roby

Musicians Behind the Scenes

Posted by:  The Philadelphia Orchestra on April 02, 2024

Where were you born? I was born in Boulder, Colorado.

What piece of music could you play over and over again? Anything by Brahms or Rachmaninoff.

What is your most treasured possession? My violin.

What’s your favorite Philadelphia restaurant? Pretty much any pizza place and Center City is blessed with many good ones.
Tell us about your instrument. It was made in 1698 by Matteo Goffriller, a Venetian maker who is famous for his fabulous cellos.

What’s in your instrument case? Not much because the extra space is too small: a shoulder pad, a cake of rosin, a few extra mutes, and a pencil case with pencils, erasers, and a nail clipper.

If you could ask one composer one question what would it be? This is so hard. I really want to go back to see Mozart or Paganini play the violin. But if held to one question it might be to Shostakovich because we just played his incredible but personally disastrous Fourth Symphony [Feb. 8–10]. I would love to hear him talk about his life in the USSR and how it affected him and his music. It can’t be just one question!

What piece of music never fails to move you? Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto, no matter how many times we have played it.

When did you join the Orchestra? I first became a substitute in 1987 while at the Curtis Institute and I became a member in 1991.

Do you play any other instruments? Embarrassingly no, but if pressed it would be piano, pathetically.

What’s your favorite type of food? PIZZA!

What books are on your nightstand? Hard copy or e-reader? I’m still a hard copy guy: Lakota America: A New History of Indigenous Power by Pekka Hämäläinen, incongruously an American history professor from Finland who teaches at Oxford University.

Do you speak any other languages? I speak and read enough Japanese to get around.

Do you follow any blogs? I listen to a number of podcasts but the only blog would be Heather Cox Richardson’s Letters from an American.

Do you have any hobbies? Computer games, reading, and watching soccer.

Is there a piece of music that isn’t in the standard orchestral repertoire that should be? Anything written by George Walker, who went to Curtis and taught at Rutgers University.

Do you have a favorite movie? Movies with great, heart-tugging music like Cinema Paradiso or Gladiator, which we played at the Mann a number of years ago.

What’s the last recording you purchased? Wagner’s Ring Cycle with James Levine and the Metropolitan Opera.

What’s on your iPod? A lot of Vivaldi.

When was the first time you heard The Philadelphia Orchestra? I think it was 1982, a beautiful Pictures from an Exhibition conducted by Eugene Ormandy.

Other than Verizon Hall, where is your favorite place to perform? The Laeiszhalle in Hamburg, Germany, has a sound as clear and beautiful as the Musikverein in Vienna but even warmer. It’s like being in a bubble bath.

Photo: Jessica Griffin

< Previous Article Next Article >

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website and personalized content.
Learn more.