Elizabeth Starr Masoudnia - Behind the Scenes
Each month in the Orchestra’s Playbill, we feature one musician in a question-and-answer segment. Below is that feature in its entirety.
What piece of music could you play over and over again? The English horn plays a prominent part in both Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. They are both revolutionary pieces of music that continue to intrigue and surprise me!
What’s your favorite Philadelphia restaurant? Shiroi Hana.
Tell us about your instrument. It is not English and not a horn! It is a longer, tenor version of the oboe. Like the oboe it is a double-reed instrument—all of us in the oboe section work on reeds daily, as they don’t last long and vary with weather conditions. And we need different reeds for different purposes.
What’s in your instrument case? A beautiful feather from Philadelphia Orchestra violinist Davyd Booth’s macaw. I use it to clean out the moisture that accumulates inside the instrument so the water doesn’t go into key holes and cause a gurgling noise.
If you could ask one composer one question what would it be? I would ask Brahms why he didn’t include English horn in any of his music! The sonority of the English horn would be perfect for his symphonies.
What piece of music never fails to move you? Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite.
When did you join the Orchestra? In September 1995.
Do you play any other instruments? The oboe and a little bit of piano.
What’s your favorite type of food? Since meeting my husband (in 1996) who is originally from Tehran, I have grown very fond of Persian food.
What books are on your nightstand? Hard copy or e-reader? I always have at least five books on my nightstand! Often several are from the excellent Gladwyne library. One of them is Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek. I have read books on an e-reader but prefer reading books the old-fashioned way, which, as my son pointed out, is not very practical for touring!
Do you speak any other languages? No.
Do you have any hobbies? Reading, needlepoint, and mostly spending time with family and our Bernese Mountain Dog.
When was the first time you heard The Philadelphia Orchestra? I grew up in the Philadelphia area and was probably around 12 years old when I first heard the Orchestra. My grandfather Isaac Starr had a regular Friday afternoon box seat at the Academy of Music, so I would either sit with him or wait in line for the student rush tickets in the Amphitheatre or “peanut gallery.”
Other than Verizon Hall, where is your favorite place to perform? We recently performed at the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, MD, and I really enjoyed the acoustics there.