While reading through your Opening Night program you may have noticed that we did a spotlight on one of our musicians. You know Brian Unverricht as a member of our trombone section and you may know that he does pre-concert chats for many of our concerts. If you have never attended a pre-concert chat we highly recommend it. In the lobby at TCU Place, Brian takes the time to dive into the music you are about to hear that evening. It is way more in-depth than we could ever go with our program notes, and he has a unique perspective as someone who plays, teaches, and enjoys the music he is talking about.
We asked Brian several questions so we could let you know more about him. His answers were so great we thought we should share them all. When we originally sent Brian these questions, we knew Brian had been a member of the SSO on and off for about 50 years. We were pretty close to the right number!
Brian: First of all, I haven’t been part of the SSO for 50 years, having missed the following seasons:
– 68-69 to go to school in the US
– 72-75 living in Australia and PEI
– 81-84 teaching in Germany DND schools
– 90-91 graduate school
Looks like I missed 9 seasons, meaning I first joined 52 years ago and have participated in 43 seasons.
SSO: What year did you join the SSO?
Brian: I joined for the 67-68 season, my first concert was Nov 12, 1967 in the Phys Ed gym on campus. The season ended with the gala performance of Orff’s Carmina Burana on April 1, 1968 to open the Centennial Auditorium.
We have the program in our archives and have uploaded a scan here.
On the program during Brian’s first SSO appearance:
Sunday, November 12, 1967 at 3:00pm University Gymnasium
First Concert – 1967-68 Season
David Kaplan, conductor
- Overture: La Clemenza di Titto (K. 621) W.A. Mozart
- Three Pieces for Orchestra (1961) Jean Papineau-Couture (SSO commission by Cosmopolitan Club of Saskatoon)
- Mouvement Perpétuel
- Five Pieces for Strings (Op. 44/4) Paul Hindemith
- Langsam (Slow)
- Langsam – Schnell (Quick)
- Lebhaft (Lively)
- Sehr langsam (Very slow)
- Concerto No. 2 in B-flat for Piano and Orchestra (Op. 19) Ludwig van Beethoven
Marina Mdivani, piano
- Allegro con brio
- Molto allegro
SSO: Do you remember the feeling of playing in your first SSO concert?
Brian: I was somewhat overwhelmed at the first rehearsals, but pleased to be part of the orchestra, and just a little nervous before the concert. The actual concert went very well.
SSO: Before being awarded a position, had you played with the SSO as an extra?
Brian: That first year David Kaplan simply rounded me up from music theory class and invited me to participate.
SSO: What is the best advice you have ever received in your career?
Brian: Strive to be an all-round musician, as there is something to be learned from every genre and every excellent player/singer/conductor no matter what. I especially remember attending a cello masterclass with Janos Starker early in my Sydney days. I only went because my girlfriend wanted to go, but I may have learned more about performing than she did!
SSO: Who do you consider to be your mentors and inspirations?
Brian: I’ve had many – from my very first piano lessons with my grandma to masterclasses and conducting seminars. My main influence and mentor was my private trombone teacher in Sydney, Australia. Baden McCarron played with the other SSO (Sydney Symphony Orchestra), and I studied with him in his studio out in his back yard.
SSO: What’s one of your favourite memories of playing with the SSO?
Brian: My first highlight that helped set everything in motion was opening the auditorium. I was entranced by the power and variety of Orff’s music and the spectacular setting of the auditorium – quite an improvement over the gym.
SSO: What is your favourite piece of music that you have performed with the SSO?
Brian: I have so many it’s impossible to choose one. There have been innumerable great works of music over the years.
SSO: Most memorable overall concert program?
Brian: Carmina Burana
SSO: Any prominent rehearsal memories?
Brian: Originally we rehearsed in Convo hall every Monday night. Having an actual rehearsal space made such a positive difference. There have been struggles with musical techniques and struggles with conductors, but in the end, it’s the music that counts.
SSO: Favourite guest artist?
Brian: European opera singer Jon Vickers, originally from Prince Albert.
SSO: Whose names stand out in a positive light in your history with the SSO?
Brian: Certainly David Kaplan for me, personally, as he got me started in the SSO. He was a unique character (to say the least) in class and all musical endeavours – quite a role model. Over the years I have enjoyed making music with an incredible variety of orchestral buddies.
SSO: Why did you choose your instrument and what do you love about it?
Brian: A town band was formed in Grenfell when I was in grade 9. At first I selected the baritone horn, but tried a trombone a couple of years later at band camp and loved the glissando effects, so I used money from my paper route to buy my first trombone. Some say the trombone is the “voice of God”, and that may be a slight exaggeration, but I do love the expressive possibilities from classical to avant garde to jazz to Klezmer, both serious and comic.
SSO: What do you enjoy most about creating and providing the pre-concert chats?
Brian: I have always been interested in the structure, format, and theory behind the music and really enjoy searching out composer information – their priorities, techniques, historical placement, personal lives. At every concert I learn something new.
SSO: What projects are you working on outside of your work with the SSO?
Brian: I perform with several other music groups, arrange music on Finale, strive to hit a golf ball straight, and keep a garden in my back yard.
SSO: What is your favourite non-musical pastime?
Brian: Travel – and this always includes a multitude of culturally related activities.