A conversation with Cathy Basrak, Assistant Principal Viola, Boston Symphony Orchestra; Principal Viola, Boston Pops Orchestra / Anne Stoneman chair, endowed in perpetuity

Every young musician wants the opportunity to perform and share stories.

My memory of the Hess goes back to my high school years, in the 90’s. The thing that stood out most to me then was the space. I had grown up in the suburbs of Chicago and didn’t know that kind of performance space existed for live radio. When I was introduced to the space and the grandeur of the area, it was quite a lovely surprise. [Preston Bradley Hall] provided such a great acoustic setting!

I think back to what it felt like to be a young musician determined to make it in the field. Every young musician wants the opportunity to perform and share stories. WFMT has always been such a huge proponent of rising stars. I had a lot of friends who had performed on the Hess, and it was surreal to then be one of those myself.

Because the Hess has been so supportive of young artists, it has created its own community for all of us through the years—it’s something we have in common, part of our emerging experience. To have the support of Chicago and its community of musical resources is fantastic, because it is a difficult career choice.

And, when you are given the opportunity to have a performance on the radio, it’s an added element of nerves and anticipation knowing you are reaching a larger audience.

Another one of the amazing things that the Hess has accomplished is that they have these longstanding relationships with both musicians and the financial support community, where they’ve been able to sustain the series.

[About the Do-It-Yourself-Messiah] It was wonderful to come together—I had never been part of such a large group, where you have a semi-professional next to a doctor, for example. Everyone was sitting on the stage and was committed to the rehearsals. And the audience…the second-most amazing thing was the audience–that you could fill the space and share that tradition!

It’s quite wonderful that programs [like LIVE MUSIC NOW!] still exist with such vigor. I do recognize there continue to be questions of defunding the arts, but I seem to be hearing more news about communities embracing such programs. I personally remember seeing the excitement on those young faces, enjoying the opportunity that they couldn’t hear anywhere else. When you present them with something as unadulterated as music, it gives them a special insight.

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