In the life of a symphony orchestra there is joy to celebrate and sadness to confront, just as in a family or a church. While the more recent past has provided us with joy in the birth of a baby girl, Sunday’s news of the sudden death of principal hornist Calvin Smith weighs heavily on all of our hearts today. The world has lost a fine musician.
A horn player’s horn player, Calvin moved here from Los Angeles to accept the professor of French horn position at UT, leaving a lucrative free-lance career in the early 90's while continuing to hold the principal horn position with the Long Beach Symphony. After perusing several biographies of him online and finding that no two of them had the same credentials, I believe it can safely be said that he had far and away the most extensive resume of any KSO member. The tag on his car read FECHOPS, (iron chops, if you’re not up on the table of elements), and to hear him play, you would know why. I have always admired horn players for their ability to tame a quirky and treacherous instrument, and Calvin made it look easy.
The irony of it all is that Chris Botti’s arrangement of Time to Say Goodbye which we performed Saturday night begins with a beautiful horn solo. If you heard it on Saturday night at the Civic, you heard the best. Prayers and thoughts go out to his wife Paula and sons Nathan and Jeremy. The memorial service will be held Wednesday, May 11 at 6:00 pm at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church.