Mark Fry, Bass Trombone
When did you begin to play your instrument?
I started on the trumpet in 6th grade and then switched to the bass trombone my sophomore year in high school. I also started to seriously study euphonium my freshman year in college. I was surrounded by musicians in my family growing up, both professional and amateur. My mother used to be a fine pianist and accompanied all of my recitals until my last couple years of college. My father was a huge classical music fan and I still have most of his vinyl records in my current collection.
Where did you study your main instrument; with whom?
My trombone teachers in high school were Aubrey Tucker (my uncle and fabulous jazz trombonist and composer) and David Waters (former bass trombonist of the Houston Symphony and Rice University professor). Unfortunately, both of these wonderful gentlemen passed away recently. At the University of Houston, I studied with Allen Barnhill (principal trombone, Houston Symphony) and John McCroskey (Houston Symphony, retired). Post College — principal trombone Jay Friedman, Chicago Symphony.
When did you join ESO?
I joined the ESO officially in 2002 but subbed for three years before that. I’m currently on a leave of absence and am the acting bass trombonist of Lyric Opera of Chicago.
What other orchestras have you played with/do you play with now?
Other orchestras that I have performed with: Chicago Symphony Orchestra (frequent sub since 1998, including tours), Houston Symphony Orchestra (frequent sub since 1992, including several recordings and tours), Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, Colorado Symphony, Charleston Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Chicago Philharmonic (member since 2000), Chicago Sinfonietta, Kalamazoo Symphony and Spoleto Festival, Italy.
What was your most memorable ESO performance?
My most memorable performance with the ESO was getting to perform Carl Nielsen’s Flute Concerto with Amy Porter as our flute soloist and Jose Luis Gomez, conducting. This is a work for a smaller chamber orchestra with only three brass players, two horns and bass trombone. The bass trombonist has several solos throughout the work that are a dialogue with the flute soloist. It’s a great piece by one of my favorite composers!
What are some of your interests, and how are you passing the time?
I’m having no problem keeping busy these days! I’ve been working on a lot of solo literature for my instrument and plan on doing a bunch of recitals once this thing is over. I just bought a house last summer and have been working on it…gardening, painting and other minor repairs and upgrades. I have a small yet bountiful vegetable garden. I’m a vegan and it has been coming in handy! I love to cook and have been experimenting with a ton of new recipes. I’m also brewing beer a bit more and just started kegging it. I have a two tap kegerator.
Since I’m home more these days, I took in a foster cat. Riley is an adorable tortoise-shell cat. She’s tiny but with a huge personality. I’m still looking for a great home for her. My other two cats, Josephine and Buddy, get along with her okay but they’ll be happier when they have the house back to themselves. I also started volunteering at Illinois Equine Humane Center twice a week. It’s a wonderful horse rescue in Maple Park. It’s a tremendous joy to be helping out these magnificent animals!