Last night, Concertmaster Reiko Niiya and I were honored for our 30 years of service to the orchestra. We were feted at the Royal Palm Yacht Club, roasted by Emcee Todd Betz and given an exquisite piece of glass artwork as a remembrance. Because the event ran long, Reiko and I did not have a chance to respond. Here is my response.
Frankly, it has not always been a smooth ride and I am glad to be able to have had my good friend Reiko for company.
My first paycheck from the orchestra reflected a $10 per rehearsal and $12 for concert per service wage. We’ve come a long way since then.
I want to thank my Mom. Although we have not always or even often seen eye-to-eye, she did cart me to all those flute lessons and buy me my first professional handmade flute. It was quite a stretch for her to believe in me with a career in music. Can you blame her? Who would have thought that I could make a living blowing on a tube and teaching others how to blow on a tube?
Beth has been by my side in the orchestra for over 20 of these 30 years. She taught me what a flute section could sound like. She is an exceptional supportive team member and my equal in musicianship. Equally important is how our love story evolved out of friendship and our association with the SWFSO.
The birth of our son Connor brought new meaning to my life. He just described me as his hero in his first power-point presentation. Here are his words: “Me and Bill are both kind and have played on stage and we both have flutes, but he is older than me and has a lot more experience than I do. But most of all he has a job.” He also described me as “brave”.
In addition to my tenure with the orchestra, I am fortunate enough to have a legacy of over 40 years of teaching. Many of these young people have gone on in music, others have found their way in different fields. Students give back to their teachers. They challenge us to think about what we do and to communicate a process effectively. It has just been recently that some of my students have started to become colleagues. That’s certainly a signal of some kind! Thank you to Jillian and Victor for agreeing to perform today. We have already started our long lived friendship!
Three teachers made a significant impact on my life. They all share the same spirit of music, intellect and compassion. I would like to thank my first flute teacher, Jose Corral who taught me to listen. My last flute teacher, Peter Lloyd taught me how to breathe and be more musical. My best teacher was Maestro Nadler. The demands that he placed before us made me, and the rest of the orchestra, grow into better musicians. I have missed him terribly.
It has been my good fortune to be a soloist with the orchestra upon 8 occasions. The most recent was a commissioned work by composer Jim Stephenson, in honor of my then 25 years. I want to thank Fran Goldman for making that commission possible.
The long -standing woodwind section, including “the Michaels”, “the Scotts”, Beth and most recently Dione are my musical family. They too have taught me how to be a good musician through our discussions and by setting the example. Our recent guest conductor dubbed us the “goodwinds”.
My brothers, Alex Albanese, Todd Betz, Tom Kracmer and I have at times, held up our side of the orchestra when it seemed it might slip away either financially or musically. A shout-out to you three. Between us, we know where all the dead bodies are!
It would be only right to mention the name of my flute maker, Chris Abell. He is an outstanding craftsman and human being. It has been my good fortune to be able to collaborate with him on some elements of his design. His flutes have become my voice.
Many thanks to all that put together this event to honor me, and my good friend Reiko. I’d like to consider this the celebration of our first thirty years. For the next 30, my wish is that the orchestra becomes a stable force, that it moves forward with slow, steady growth, and that we find a path towards being more relevant to the lives of the citizens of this community. And of course, another party at the end.
Lastly, I want to thank Maestro Bjaland for stepping in and being exactly the right person at exactly the right moment to help us out in our time of need. Leif is an extraordinary gentleman and musician. I am honored to be his friend.
Thanks to all of you for giving the musicians of the SWFSO a place to express our musicianship.
Long live the SWFSO!