"When I was in Cincinnati, DSO Board members sent me Christmas Cards. Staff visited to see me perform."
Moving forward allows for perspective not always attainable until we are somewhere else. "I missed the OneDSO family," says Ralph, "which starts from the very beginning. Simple things like having a musicians' parking lot; and from structural to people: our Day of Service brings people together, but there is also focus on individual musicians at the DSO. I see them being celebrated and I think that’s amazing. Artistry and respect go hand in hand."
“How do you measure the quality of an orchestra? Our first rehearsal is as good as some orchestras first concerts!”
Another motivating factor in Ralph's return was the quality of Orchestra Hall and the DSO's ownership of it: "It’s amazing to me that the Hall is as old as it is. Acoustically, you are never aware of any compromises that are sometimes made when an old building has been restored. It's one of the very best places I’ve played in the world."
As Principal Clarinet, Ralph acts as the administrative head of his section, setting the sound standard, and rotating the work load. With so many musicians on the stage, he sits with his section spread around him, watching and communicating with the other principals, and freeing his section to just follow him, "Then if we’re wrong it’s on me.”
Principals carry a lot of responsibility, but with that responsibility come perks, like playing solos. "For this season's winter music festival, American Panorama, Leonard asked me to Play Bernstein’s Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs. It’s a wonderful piece that was written for a television program called The World of Jazz, and it was meant to bridge the worlds of jazz and classical music. The version we performed was arranged by Lucas Foss and made it possible for me to play with the full orchestra, rather than the small jazz ensemble for which it was originally written. It was amazing!"
"So often, the clarinet makes magical moments happen by playing extremely softly, but in this work, I could just scream at the top of my lungs! It was fun to try and emulate the great Benny Goodman, to whom the work was dedicated."