Music Director Peter Oundjian Interviews Principal Trombone Donna Parkes

March 3, 2021

Recently, Music Director Peter Oundjian sat down with Colorado Music Festival Principal Trombone Donna Parkes to discuss her fascinating career path, the teachers that most impacted her education, Australian rules football, and more.

Watch the interview or read the full transcription below.

How Donna Chose the Trombone

Peter Oundjian: Welcome everybody. I am delighted to have with me here Donna Parkes, our wonderful principal trombonist who’s been with the Festival… How long, Donna?

Donna Parkes: 2009 was my first year.

Peter: Wow. Okay. So of course, everybody is fascinated, you have such wonderful sound, powerful sound, sensitive sound. How does it happen that you choose the trombone?

Donna: Well, I was nine when I started. Often people ask me what instrument I started on and how I progressed to trombone, and honestly, I was very fortunate where I grew up in Canberra, Australia, to have a fabulous music program in my elementary school, primary school as we call it at home. And we had incredible music teachers, and they started our elementary schools with a focus. So it was either a woodwind focus or a brass focus or a string focus. So as it happened, my school was a brass focus. So I started on trombone at nine. And the interesting thing is the vast majority of my brass band in school were female. So I grew up thinking that boys did not play the trombone because everybody in my section were girls, were females. 

So yeah, I started from the beginning and was really lucky with the educators I had. I look back now, and I think absolutely just so fortunate to have the kind of music educators we did at that point. We also had an incredible music conservatory where I lived. So I started taking private lessons quite young. I think I was 11 or 12 when I started on scholarship, taking private lessons. 

And luckily, it’s a small enough city that the studio was really quite small. There was probably less than 10 trombone players at any time in the entire studio. That includes high school and younger, as well as undergraduate and graduate students. So we got a lot of individualized attention, and I had musicians like Michael Mulcahy as my teacher in high school.

Peter Oundjian: Michael, is he the second trombone in Chicago?

Donna: Yes.

Peter: Wow. Wonderful player. Wonderful teacher as well. 

Donna: Incredibly lucky. So I think for me, it really comes down to where you get your concept of sound, and I was surrounded by these phenomenal brass sounds from the very beginning.

Peter: It’s incredible.

Donna: Yeah. I really think a lot of it comes from that concept and where you are grounded and what you hear as a beautiful sound. And I was really, really lucky to be surrounded by world-class musicians from the beginning, really.

The Culture of Canberra

Peter: It’s so interesting because you know, a lot of us of course have been to Australia and possibly many times, and some have never been there. But you wonder what… So what is it like culturally? And it’s unbelievably rich. But Canberra is a mysterious kind of place for most people because they’ll go to Brisbane and they’ll go to Adelaide, and they’ll certainly go to Sydney and Melbourne. But you only go to Canberra if you are with the government or you happen to be booked to go there. I remember going there in ’84 to play with my quartet, and at the University of Canberra. Is that connected with the conservatory or not?

Donna: No. The conservatory’s connected with the Australian National University now. It was more of a separate entity when I was there, but now it’s amalgamated. So yeah, there’s two universities, the AMU and then the one you were at, which is the Canberra University.

Peter: Right. And it’s actually an incredibly rich community when it comes to the arts, Canberra, and we don’t really think of it. It’s this funny sort of… It’s a bit like Ottawa. It’s like, “Oh, Toronto, capital of Canada? Montreal, Canada…?” No, Ottawa. And Canberra, the same kind of thing, but very, very vibrant. And so you were… Were you born in Canberra?

Donna: No. I was actually born in a little town called Shepparton, which is in Victoria, but we moved there, and you mentioned it, it’s a government-based city. So my dad was working for the government, which is why we moved to Canberra initially. And you’re right, it’s a smaller city. People tend to not even visit or know about it. It is the capital, fun fact. A lot of people try and tell me otherwise. They try and convince me it’s Sydney, which, pretty sure I’ve got this. It is Canberra. 

But yeah. It’s a really rich city. And I think having a conservatory like that, where they just had phenomenal faculty really created this elevated musical scene that was truly, especially the brass… I mean, across the board, strings and winds as well, but it just was that moment in time where the brass faculty was brilliant. And I just lucked in at the right moment, I think.

Peter: Well, I’m curious, though, that you said that your school was focused particularly on brass. Were there people playing string instruments in your school? Or was it pretty exclusive?

Donna: So my primary slash elementary school, it was all brass instruments. They had brass and percussion. And then a neighboring elementary would be woodwinds. And then what they did is formed the concert bands from all of the different elementary schools, and then we performed as a full concert band. So it really was the structure of music education at the time, that it was better to really have a focus for each school. And then we were sort of surrounded by brass… We had daily band, and it was good.

Peter: Neat. And were there some schools that focused on strings?

Donna: Absolutely. So some were strings, some were woodwind, and then they would put everyone together for these concept bands and orchestras and larger ensembles.

Peter: So it’s kind of a brilliant idea because you kind of inspire each other with a similar approach to sound and sound production, of course. Is it still that way in Canberra, by the way?

Donna: That’s a great question. And I know that program is still running, the instrumental music program. I haven’t seen where it is at this point, but I certainly know at that time for us, and also when you’re a beginner like that, you can really learn more quickly because the conductor’s, or the teacher’s not stopping to help every single instrument finger or bow or… So you get, I think… I think, in my opinion, we got more one-on-one and more intense instruction because you’re teaching just that instrument group.

Cricket, Rugby, and Australian Rules Football

Peter:  Right. Right. So the other thing that I always felt about when I think of Australia is that everybody played cricket. Did you play cricket in school?

Donna: I played backyard cricket. I’m very serious about my backyard cricket. I did not play it in school, but you’re right. It’s the major sport. It’s cricket or rugby. So everybody plays–

Peter: And there are Australian rules, which is…

Donna: Australian rules. Where I’m from in Australia, we play rugby union or rugby league. So it’s really dependent on where you’re from in the country as to what code of football you play and/or follow. So I’m a rugby girl.

Peter: To be clear, Australian rules is neither rugby league nor rugby union.

Donna: Correct. Australian rules is a different game altogether.

Peter: There are no rules, as far as I can see. Australian rules means to do whatever you want, right? I mean, it’s like they strangle each other from what I’ve seen. It’s quite violent.

Donna: Rugby is a rough sport. I mean, you… It’s basically like American football without protection. Honestly, it is such a rough game. Those guys…. Oh, yeah. 

Peter: I was scrum half, it won’t surprise you, but I wasn’t allowed to play after the age of 12 because playing scrum half or any place in rugby is not a very good place for a violinist to be, frankly.

Donna: No. No.

Peter: But anyway. So cricket is a big sport, right?

Donna: Huge. Huge.

Peter: Yeah. And the Australians are fantastically good at it, of course.

Donna: We try.

Peter: Yeah. Okay. So–

Donna: We’re just trying to keep up with New Zealand.

Peter: Fair enough. So what was your journey? You stayed in Australia, you stayed in Canberra through high school and all of–

Donna: Yes.

The Next Phases of Donna’s Education & Career

Peter: And then did you go to conservatory still…

Donna: So I went to that conservatory where I had done my individual lessons through high school. That is where I went for my undergraduate degree and started getting… The nice thing in being from a smaller city is you get opportunities early on. So I got some really wonderful opportunities to play with the Canberra Symphony, and then towards the end of my undergraduate, starting to do a lot of work in Sydney with the Sydney Symphony and the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, also the Australian Chamber Orchestra, so incredible opportunities.

Peter: I’ll bet. Great group.

Donna: Right. Phenomenal organizations. And I got an opportunity very young. So I think that also shapes you, when you’re exposed to that really stunning music-making. So I stayed for undergraduate. I then moved to Sydney because I was doing a lot of the work… There was much more work in Sydney at the time. So moved to Sydney.

Peter: …In your early 20s, right? Very early 20s.

Donna: Yes. Yeah. Right after my undergraduate. So I did about a year of freelancing in Sydney, and like any young musician from Australia, you get to that point where you think, “Okay, am I going to go to Europe and study further? Or am I going to go to the United States and study further?” You really get to this juncture where, because there’s so few jobs, unfortunately, basically because our population is so small, there’s really only seven or eight full-time symphony orchestras. So do the math for tenor trombone. It’s not a lot of jobs.

Peter: That’s incredible. But you must’ve had, at a very young age, a very natural sound, because I mean, that’s the thing that differentiates… I mean, obviously, the technique of trombone playing is quite incredible to all of us because you just have to have such fine placement of everything because you don’t have valves, things to push up and down. And so you have to be very precise with that. But it’s the sound production that really seems, to me, to separate one from the other, right? The sort of the great player from the decent player.

Donna: Absolutely.

Peter: And when did you first feel you had a real sound?

Donna: Gosh. I mean, I think you just… What you just said is a good description for me. It came very naturally for me, producing a sound and producing a sound that was clean came very early and very naturally for me. And it really was something that I noticed and was noticed even in my early teens, I think, just that quality of sound. And I do attribute that to hearing the level of sounds around me, but I think there is a part of that, that it just… The trombone was a good fit for me.

Being Shorter Than the Trombone

Peter: Yeah. Yeah. So I have one more question about it being a good fit.

Donna: Yeah.

Peter: So you’re nine years old. I don’t know how tall you are, but probably not…

Donna Parkes:

Not as tall as the trombone. [laughs]

Peter: And so how does a young, small person… Do you have some kind of contraption to help you get the lengths that you have to have? Or how does that all work?

Donna: Yeah. So they have now invented such contraptions, but when I was young there wasn’t. So essentially, there’s seven positions on the trombone, and I couldn’t reach seventh position for a number of years. I was not… I was a small child, in frame and height. So the trombone was taller than me, and I couldn’t… I could barely reach sixth position, and I couldn’t reach seventh. 

So what happens is then once you add the valve to the trombone, that gives you some alternatives to using the positions most further out. So once you get a valve, you can do work-arounds so you don’t have to use seventh position. So I think I was in grade seven, so I would have been 12 or so when I — so excited about getting a tenor trombone with a valve. And then I got a little older and my arms grew, and I was able to reach seventh. But yeah. When I first started, no. It was taller than me, and I couldn’t reach seventh.

Peter: Right. So you had to find alternative ways, using the valve, to make certain notes. Is that…

Donna: Yes. Correct?

Peter: Yeah. Amazing thing. Okay. So now you’re in your twenties, early twenties. You’re living in Sydney for a couple of years and you decide… So what made you decide the U.S. as opposed to Europe or anywhere else for that matter?


Donna: For me, it came down to the teachers that I’d had were most influenced by the Chicago school of brass-playing. And there was so much emphasis on that. And it really came down to, I really wanted to go to the source. I wanted to go to the teachers who taught my teachers, and I wanted to sit in a room with Arnold Jacobs, the phenomenal tuba pedagogue, and I wanted to hear from him. 

And then on top of that, for me, the states, especially Chicago, it just was… There’s so much activity. I’m coming from Canberra, which is tiny, and there was five of us in the entire studio, to a city that is just bursting with brass players. And the history of brass playing in that city, and just the excess of players to play with, to play chamber music, to play orchestra.

And then on top of that, there’s the CSO. So for me, Chicago really was a logical choice. I did do some study tours where I came and studied in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. And it came down to sort of a combination of it had all the things I was most excited about brass playing, and it just seemed like this incredible opportunity. So my mission was just to get into a school and get funding to come to go to school, because as you know, school in the States is extremely expensive. 

Peter: Was that given to you by the Australian government? Or…

Donna: I had a combination. I did get some funding from home, and I got a very generous scholarship from, I went to DePaul University at the time because my teacher, who was Charlie Vernon, was not teaching at Northwestern or the other schools. He was teaching at DePaul. And I didn’t… I wanted to study with a member of the CSO, and I’d had the privilege of already studying with Mike Mulcahy, so Charlie was this great opportunity and DePaul was very generous. So lots of different funding from different places, and off I went.

Peter: Now, this is a particularly important thing which not everybody knows about. There was something about the Chicago Symphony brass section over a long period of time, and to this day, which has a very special reputation among brass players. I mean, Bud Herseth may have been like the king, almost of all of that, and maybe the beginning of it. He was… When I first conducted the Chicago Symphony, which was only about 15 years ago, he was still playing actually. I was lucky enough to conduct.

Donna: Wow.

Peter: Yeah. I mean, what a privilege. And I mean, but an incredible brass section and an extraordinarily powerful sound, but never blaring. Yeah? Right? Just a beautiful sound of an extraordinary quality. And that must have been very attractive to brass players from all over the world. So it was quite competitive, I’m guessing, to come to DePaul or Northwestern or wherever to get into the class. But yet very inspiring. What do you think it was about that brass section? Also the horn section of course, was–

Donna: Oh, absolutely. The entire brass section, not just the low brass or trumpets, but absolutely. They really set the standard of what brass playing was about to become, not just in this country, but internationally. They really changed the bar in terms of the quality of the sound, the warmth of the sound, the generosity of the sound. They completely changed the landscape of brass playing. 

So to go to that city and to get a chance to be in a room with one of those players was so overwhelmingly incredible for me. And they really did. They shifted brass playing, and they really took it to a completely different level. And that orchestra, the way they played within the orchestra and their concept, not just within their own sections, but as an entire brass unit was so unified and so glorious. 

And it completely changed brass playing, not just here, but internationally, in my opinion. So I think any brass player knows of that Chicago sound when we talk about that sound and what those players did to change brass playing. And then not only just the players, but the pedagogy. Arnold Jacobs was absolutely one of the pedagogues of our generation. And he changed, not just brass players, but wind players and singers and anyone who uses air to create their sound. Everybody wanted to go and get a lesson with Arnold Jacobs because he really revolutionized how we do what we do.

Arnold Jacobs

Peter: Tell all our viewers a little bit about him and his background.

Donna: Gosh. So he was a tuba player who had… I want to say he had one functioning lung, and I can’t tell you why. But I know he had one functioning lung, and he really changed the approach for brass playing to be about how you’re inhaling, how you’re using the air in a relaxed way. The other really important element was using the concept of sound as your guide, singing in your head what you want to hear and the instrument just being the medium. 

So a complete shift away from focusing on the… not necessarily technique, but much more emphasis on the concept. Can you hear the music? Are you singing in your mind? Because that determined what is going to come out your bell. So his whole emphasis was really different, and he really took teaching and playing to a different place.

Peter: It’s interesting because we think of these instruments, just our initial thought of brass band, and that’s where almost all of you start, in a brass band. And brass bands, you don’t think of, oh, try to sing a phrase. I mean, in other words, you think about the solos in Mahler 3, for example, and a brass band, and they have seemed to have very little in common. So it’s quite a big jump for a young brass player who starts off like that to suddenly realize, “Oh, I play an instrument that actually can be a great singer.”

Donna: Absolutely.

Peter: And that’s… I mean, that teaching… And I find that so beautiful about being a conductor and having brass players that sing through these instruments that are innately vocal, but it takes a huge amount of technique and control to be able to do that. 

And the other thing that astonishes me, and I think anybody who realizes it, is actually how little breath you’re using quite often at any given moment. I mean maybe if you’re playing quite loud, you’re using quite a lot of breath. But you can hold very long phrases, and it’s astonishing when you really measure the amount of breath that’s going into the instrument at any given moment. It’s very little, right? It’s incredibly well controlled.

Donna: And it’s really about making this sound with as little effort as possible. And that’s what I really respected, and that’s what resonates for me with that style of teaching, is this concept that the less tension and restriction and effort we make, the more pure the airstream is, the more beautiful the sound. 

So my whole concept of playing is based on, I want to get out of the way and just get the concept from what I’m hearing in the most fluid and easy way through my instrument and out the bell. And I love that concept of absolute ease and purity of sound. 

And that was something that was instilled in me very young, was the sound is everything. The quality of your sound is everything. It doesn’t matter what flashy technique you can do, if the quality of your sound is not appealing, who’s going to want to listen to you? So I love that, and I’m forever grateful to my teachers who really instilled in that to me, that the beauty of your sound, that’s your language.

Peter: And it’s kind of the opposite of what… the initial thought, “Oh, trombone. Oh, that’s a big sounding instrument.”

Donna: Absolutely.

Peter: And, I suppose, in a way it’s sort of probably quite easy to play the trombone quite loud, in a way, compared with doing something unbelievably beautiful and turning a magical phrase on a trombone. That’s the key, right? So that’s the magic.

Donna: Absolutely.

Peter: Yeah.

Donna: Absolutely. As we said at the beginning, that’s where the beauty is. To me, the brass musicians that I aspire to and I am inspired by are the ones who just, their sound is gorgeous. There’s a quality of sound that just sings and you just can kind of revel in. And that’s always been my goal.

Peter: Yeah. The degrees with that concept of course, is the magic. When you have beautiful players with the same idea throughout the horn section, trumpet section, and in the brass.

Donna: That’s where the magic is.

Peter: Yeah.

Donna: Absolutely.

Peter: And then, of course, we’re very lucky in the summertime because we have Chautauqua, which is another beautiful instrument in and of itself, right?

Donna: Right.

Peter: Beautiful place to play, of course.

Donna: Right. Beautiful.

After Chicago

Peter: Take us then… You’re at DePaul. You do your studies there. How long were you there?

Donna: So I was supposed to be there two years, but I ended up crunching my degree into a year and a half because I got into the New World Symphony. So I was playing in the Civic Orchestra in Chicago, which was another incredible experience. And then got into New World Symphony, and at that point, I don’t know if their rules are different now, but you had to be graduated to go to New World. So I decided to graduate over the summer. So I did a lot of work over one summer and graduated and then went straight to New World Symphony, and I was down in Miami with Michael Tilson Thomas for two seasons.

Peter: Wonderful. That’s a great place. But that was still when you were with the Lincoln Theatre, I’m guessing, right? It wasn’t…

Donna: Yes. I was not of the generation that had the astounding new hall and all the wonderful… No. We were in the Lincoln.

Peter: But it was still fun. I mean, it was still in the middle of Miami Beach and fine talent and Michael there and wonderful guest conductors, a lot of the time as well.

Donna: It’s an incredible program. And to this day, I look back and just sitting on a stage where every single musician… It’s a little like [Colorado Music Festival] actually, where every single musician is motivated, is excited, and inspired to be there. As a professional musician, that’s not always going to be the case in every orchestra you play in. Now, we all think it is, but the reality is it’s not always the case. 

So when you get those situations, you really appreciate them. And I felt that then, and I feel the same about Colorado Music Festival, that we have just a group of musicians who love being there. They love playing together, and it’s a different kind of music making when you have that.

Peter: Tell us how, how long were you in the New World Symphony?

Donna: So I did two full seasons at New World Symphony. And really that program is designed to get young symphonic musicians out into the world to really make a difference. And so I started taking auditions quite avidly when I was there and won my first orchestral position, which was the Virginia Symphony, in my second year at New World.

Peter: Wow, what position in the Virginia Symphony?

Donna: I was second trombone in the Virginia Symphony.

Peter: Okay. How long did you stay there?

Donna: I ended up being there, in total, six years, but I started doing a lot of short contracts in other orchestras during that time. So I started doing a lot of subbing with other groups, Baltimore Symphony, National Symphony, and then San Francisco Symphony, which then was the reason that I ended up leaving Virginia Symphony was to take a one year contract in San Francisco.

Peter: Oh, do you remember what year that was?

Donna: Yes, I do. It was the 2006, 2007 season of San Francisco.

Peter: Okay. I don’t know. I might’ve been there once that year.

Donna: Yeah? Yeah.

Peter: Maybe. Well, great. Well, wonderful orchestra. And not a bad city. What can we say? Okay. So then… So after that, how did you–

Donna: So after that, I won principal of Louisville. I won Louisville in 2008, started that season and have been here primarily since then, again, with a couple of other forays into other orchestras. I did a one year with the Utah Symphony and one year where I spent a lot of the season with the Malaysian Philharmonic. 

Peter: Malaysian?

Donna: Yeah.

Peter: That’s a lot of flying around.

Donna: Yeah. I love to travel, though. Absolutely love it. So if anyone asks me to go anywhere, usually the answer is yes.

Peter: And when you would go to Utah for a one year, would you leave Louisville?

Donna: Yes. So I had… That was a full one year’s leave that I took to go and play in Utah. It was assistant principal and second trombone for the season. They had an opening for the season, so went there and played for a full season.

Joining the Colorado Music Festival

Peter: Right. So tell me how you got to know the people at that Colorado Music Festival and how that all came about.

Donna: For me, Colorado Music Festival came about… I was in my first year in the orchestra here in Louisville, and [the Festival] was having national auditions at that point. And I knew we had a long stretch here. The orchestra doesn’t have a 52-week season, so I had a good chunk of time over the summer and knew I wanted to have some musical activity during those summer months. They had a national audition. I flew to Boulder to take the audition. And I remember landing there and being in Boulder and just thinking, “I have to win this.” Just based on… First of all, just based on the place because I instantly fell in love with it. I’m an outdoor person. And it was one of those places that I put my feet on the ground and said, “Yes. This is my place. These are my people.”

Peter: You remember the first time you walked into Chautauqua Auditorium, I’m sure.

Donna: Oh, absolutely. And so I did my audition. It was in a church. I couldn’t tell you which church. Michael Christie was the then-conductor, was auditioning me. So we did the audition, and I felt pretty good about it. I felt like I played quite well. And then I remember asking him if there was somewhere that I… My flight was that evening, was there somewhere I could hike? That I could fit a hike in? And so I actually hiked Royal Arch in my audition outfit, which was not hiking appropriate. 

But just absolutely fell in love with everything about it. And the orchestra and the Festival had such a fabulous reputation then. So for me, yeah. I was so thrilled to be able to join the Festival. And then when I actually spent my first summer in Boulder and realized just what an incredible gift the Festival orchestra is and that town is and everything about it… Yeah. 

Peter: It’s a very special group of people, isn’t it? I mean, it’s really like a family in the healthiest possible way.

Donna: Absolutely. And the colleagues, who are friends that I get to see… Some of them I only see in the summer, and you have this incredible relationship because you’ve got the history and then you spend this magical time together every summer. 

And it was the perfect length because you just have long enough to enjoy each other. You don’t get to the point in our full-time orchestras, where you might get sick of people or get frustrated. It’s the perfect situation. You just get to love the people and the music-making. And yeah. It really is. It’s a magical place. 

And not only that, but as I became more ingrained in the community there, friends who support the Festival, just fantastic people who are there every year, and we reconnect and we have dinners and just it’s really, it’s a wonderful, wonderful festival. And it’s created such a positive experience for the whole community now, I think, there.

Peter: Yeah. There’s a really passionate atmosphere on every side of the organization, whether it’s the patrons, the board, the listeners, and certainly the players, and all the soloists who come, they just love to be there. It is an extraordinary place. I’ve never seen quite so much positive energy. And it’s understandable because you look out any time and you see the Flatirons, what are you supposed to do? Feel bad? I mean, there’s nowhere quite like it.

Donna: Nowhere like it.

Peter: And you certainly contributed such an enormous amount. I can say that already because I’ve just… I’ve only been a couple of years, but I’ve observed how much you give and how beautifully you play and also what a wonderful relationship you have with everybody in the orchestra and particularly with your own section. 

And that makes an enormous difference because we know… I mean, we don’t talk about this publicly very much, but sometimes there are situations in an orchestra where people haven’t talked to each other, actually for like a decade or two decades, and they’ve been sitting right almost next to each other making music. And that kind of thing is actually very sad.

Donna: I find that so distressing on many levels, on a musical level, but just on a human level. And there is a lot of that. I mean, it’s devastating to say, especially publicly because the public has this perception that every orchestra’s cohesive, which they are, but no. 

My mission, especially being a principal here and a principal in Colorado, one of the most important things to me is how we get along as human beings and how we treat each other. In respect of what’s happening with the music making, it’s really important to me that I am friends and people know that they are respected and valued because there’s no question in my mind that what makes a section sound truly great is not about the individual level of each player. It’s about how you connect as musicians and friends when you sit down to play together. 

And the best experiences I’ve had, and not necessarily with those players who are the most elite, but the ones who really buy into, “We’re going to do this as a team, and we’re agreeing on the concept, and we’re in this together.” And to me, that’s when it’s just so, so fulfilling and so wonderful.

Peter: It’s a magical thing. I mean, it’s the greatest example of human collaboration. What can really ultimately compare with that? I often say that. 

The timing of baseball players and hockey players knowing where each other are, that’s one thing, but every single person on the stage, however far away they may be from the other, has to be feeling exactly the same gesture, not just time and balance, but musical and emotional gesture. 

And it’s really an incredibly magical thing, and that’s why it’s really difficult right now. I think for people, it’s one thing to watch on videos, but not to be able to experience that live is tough for all of us who are kind of addicted to it or love it on so many different levels.

Donna: And I do… I think the positive to come out of this quarantine and this whole situation we’re in is that we will have such a different gratitude for just that. I think we tend to take that for granted a little. When it’s what you do, day in, day out, you have a certain level of, this is what it is. And I think with this experience we’re all going through, we’re really going to have… I mean, that first time that I get to sit on a stage and play with colleagues in real life again, gosh, we’re going to be so grateful. And I think it’s going to be even more impactful because we’re going to have a different gratitude for it.

Peter: Without question, I can almost not imagine what it’s going to feel like, or for that matter when it’s going to be, but let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope it’s sooner than later. And certainly we’ll hope that we have a festival in ’21…

Donna: Absolutely.

Peter: Donna, thank you very much for spending this time with us. It’s wonderful to get to know you, for everybody, and to hear your thoughts and find out how you took on this beast of an instrument, which you make sound like such an angelic experience for all of us. And we’ll look forward very much to hearing you in all kinds of different situations over the next years.

Donna: Absolutely.

Peter: All the very best to you.

Donna: Thank you.

Peter: And thank you all for being with us. And we’ll look forward to seeing you next time.


We hope you’ve enjoyed this interview! Watch our growing list of interviews with Festival musicians, composers, friends of the Festival, and more.

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